Monday, June 29, 2009

Get out the atlas, Lucy

We are in the midst of planning our next summer adventure.

Yes, wanderlust strikes often around here, and last night we agreed on the plan: a two-week R.V. trip around the midwest and northeast.

We're still in the dreamy initial planning stages--me picturing our little brood eating from farm stands down sleepy little back roads after singing campfire songs and catching fireflies; and Sean, willing to drive 31' of trailer down the interstates at $2.90 a gallon just so he can hit all of the fireworks stands and avoid every Cracker Barrel.

Sounds like a perfect vacation for everyone, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The good news and the bad, and bad and good again

The bad news is that my brand new laptop suffered major liquid damage on vacation when after a particularly championship-like WiFi signal pickup, got its own Gatorade shower on the sidelines.

The good news is that after immediately taking it to the ER upon our return, it can, in fact, be saved.

The bad news is that it can be saved for $1240.00.

The other bad news is that clumsiness is not covered under the year-long warranty which I was only 20 days in.

The good news is that I paid for it with American Express (upon Sean's urging) and it turns out that they do have a stupidity clause that will cover most of the repair work.

The other good news is that Apple can save that wet chapter of the novel for an additional $100.

The end resulting news is that after claims filing, two weeks and throwing up in relief that it could have been a lot more bad news than good, I will have my computer and chapter back after only a minimal out-of-pocket cost.

And up for interpretation for good or bad is the news that I didn't have to drown myself in that pool of Gatorade that dripped from my keyboard if the results of this fiasco had gone any differently.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm going with "priceless"

Ah, home.

Thanks to the rain yesterday, my skin stalled at reptilian and not full-blown Paleozoic. Yes, we are all sun and salt-drenched, wave-battered (some more than others) and exhausted--just like a good vacation should leave you.

Re acclimation to mainland life will be difficult, painful and slow. Sean's foot is indeed broken. And the ligament is also torn, just for good measure. Apparently, sand is his Achilles heel. (Get it? He broke the other foot in sand volleyball 2 months ago...) No more beaches for him until we get him fitted for prosthetic flip flops. Other losses of the week include the custom Father's Day tennis tournament trophy (stolen by a couple of drunken golf cart drivers who must have mistaken it for something valuable), my MacBook, (a bottle of blue Gatorade is my Achilles heel) and the last chapter and a half of my novel. I write that with the casual optimism of a woman going to the Apple store tomorrow with hopes of full recovery at minimal charge, but rest assured a piece of me died in that rented condo yesterday when blue liquid dripped from my keyboard.

Anyway, back to happy vacation memories. Here's some photos:

Jessie likes eating the beach.

A-Dog and Beer Beard the pirates at Shark's Tooth beach.

The boys jet-skiing.

Group photo and future family Christmas card.

When the sun goes down on the Gulf of Mexico, when the day cools down and the jasmine breezes blow. A Palm Island moon will rise, on a night in paradise, when the sun goes down on the Gulf of Mexico...

~Red Beard the pirate

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lessons learned this Tuesday

1.) Watermelons don't keep well in tropical climates. Refrigerate upon arrival.

2.) Do not use glass coffee tables as extra seating.

3.) Sean's feet need to be insured by Lloyd's of London or something. He broke the other one body-surfing yesterday.

4.) The island gets really, really quiet when the 21 other families leave.

5.) Next year, pack a lot less clothes and a lot more water.

And later this afternoon I'm going to learn how to fly a kite with A-Dog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day something or other

I've spent so much time in the Gulf that I have barnacles in my hair and I haven't turned on my hair dryer since last Monday. I've lost my pedicure somewhere in a sand dollar bed, and There's a sheen of salt that coats my body so you could cure a ham on my belly. And you know what? I'm good with this look.

Today's surf was a little rough so we weren't collecting many treasures except a mean case of sand burn when scraped up against the shore after a particularly bitchy wave. We'll try again tonight for the nightly trek out to Shark's Tooth beach to watch the sunset and collect, what else but shark's teeth. Last night we saw about six dolphin swim by as close as an arm's length out, and I'm kind of excited to see if they'll be back.

I just hope my beach beauty doesn't scare them away.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 2 in paradise

This lunch break is brought to you by the Gulf of Mexico: The happiest place on earth sans mechanical dolls.

Today's treasure was a manatee sighting within about 20 feet where we were swimming. This guy's belly must have been rubbing against the bottom because we were in pretty shallow water. I'm going to return to the same spot after lunch with my pockets stuffed full of romaine and see if he won't come back to play.

I'm attempting sand castle construction, but so far every structure I've built has been hit by Hurricane Jessie who likes to climb to the top of Mt. Mommy's sand castle and slide down.

In between all of the beach play, I've been writing a bit because I find this place inspires me. And apparently Matty too because after a year and half of writing this novel without a title, Matty came up with it floating in the surf.

Not a bad day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Empanadas taste even better with a side of sand

Day one at the beach is going rather swimmingly.

We arrived yesterday to my favorite place on the planet with the roar of the surf and the worst customer service ever. Just how I remembered it. But if you're lucky, you only have to deal with any noticeable staff when you check in (which always seems like a huge surprise to the people working the check-in desk), and then you are left alone for the remainder of your stay.

We unpacked and headed to our beach to watch the sunset and collect our first of many shark's teeth. I love that my children are absolute beach-combing freaks just like their mother. I think I would consider it a maternal failure if they each couldn't find at least five excellent specimens within seconds of arriving on the beach. But the pickings are pretty sweet this year.

After watching a particularly fantastic lightning storm from our lanai we slept pretty soundly and woke up late to get back out on the beach and enjoy this amazing place. The sand here is course--like the sea hasn't finished pounding it into a fine sugar yet. Already we've seen several sea turtles--the reason why you can't even flash a smile after dark here. And we've settled into island time in less than 24 hours. I'm only breaking now for lunch and restocking for the afternoon shift.

The rest of the crew arrives later today, and so it's about to be a party. I'll send pictures.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The lengths I will go

Now that I have secured the bootleg empanadas, I think we're all set for vacation.

Yep, I bought contraband empanadas today. I met a man who spoke no English except "calamari" as he passed me the aluminum pans in secret. I paid cash--dealers in picadillo don't take plastic--and I drove off with four dozen pillows of fried heaven in the trunk of my car.

I don't care how it looks. Don't judge.

It is going to be an absolutely delicious vacation....

Monday, June 15, 2009

You just need to apply heat to activate my creativity I guess

I'm taking a short break in between laundry loads to watch the girls in the pool and write. Yep, write, not work. There is a difference and I finally found that missing piece in my never-ending novel to finally bring it altogether, after a several month hiatus from all things fiction. So I've been typing away since Saturday on that. Who'd have thought it had been rattling around my head the whole time? That means the laptop makes the suitcase for the trip later this week.

Serious laundry and packing preparations now. I've got the majority of the shopping done--which just means packing more food and beverages than clothes for this particular destination. I. Can't. Wait.

BTW, head on over to to win some fabulous giveaways this week. I've got a couple of fun ones going on at the moment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hand, foot and mouth without the hand and foot

We've been sidelined a bit this weekend by one of those horrific preschool diseases that manifests itself in the form of raging high fevers and gaping open sores inside a five year-old's mouth. The doctor said it's one of her "least favorite toddler viruses."


No shiz.

But seriously, doc, you only have to peer into her poor mouth for 4 seconds and declare "It's virus," never even having to write a prescription nor listen to the sweet little cherub say she can't eat because she "has a fever in my mouth." But thanks for the helpful tip that it could last for a week and she probably can't eat but make sure she drinks to remain hydrated, but yet there is nothing modern medicine has come up with by 2009 to help ease her discomfort.

So this Saturday we'll be hunting down blue ice pops and chocolate yogurt. (That's pudding to you and me.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm packed! Too bad we're not leaving for another month

We seriously need to finally leave for this vacation already so I quit shopping for it. I have amassed an arsenal of beach "necessities" that rivals Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale. Every possible activity is covered now, except for eating.

We probably won't have any tomatoes from our garden ready quite yet, but I wrote about our new garden here.

Maybe we can grill oregano and pumpkins, though.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The unwatched pot boilth over

So I woke up this morning having one of those days that you know is just going to be a fight. Not necessarily with anyone in particular--perhaps just yourself and some unknown gorilla in the mist who hates returning email.

Amy did not want to go to the doctor this morning. Struggle from here to South Tampa. Words did not want to come out of my fingers and flow prolifically onto the screen. No one has answered an email in days, and I've now officially tired of Jessie taking off her diaper by herself. Seriously over it.

So at about 2:00, I just stopped fighting the day. I picked up my book (a great read--The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao--and read. Then, when it got too hot, I swam and left my phone and the computer to deal with that damn gorilla themselves.

And you know what? During that 2 hour break I literally got 4 unexpected, yet very wonderful emails and 2 phone calls that replaced a couple of question marks with periods.

And even if all four of those emails don't come to fruition--the fifth one may just be my future career.

It was from the woman who conducted our wine tasting on Saturday. She was so impressed with my mad cooking skillz, she actually asked me to cater an event for her.

I got culinary game. At least I did on Saturday.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

We need more Cascade

I'm ignoring the kitchen for a little while longer with coffee and the paper on the lanai.

It's an amazing mess in there--a load of clean dishes awaits to be unloaded, and every other plate, pan, cup, glass and pickle fork is piled--or stuck with a layer of apricot preserves--on the counter.

I suppose after watching one too many episodes of Top Chef, last night I prepared a 5 course tasting menu to go with our wine tasting event. Thinking this was not too ambitious a task for 13 guests, I prepared gnocchi with a lemon cream sauce, lamb chops with a mustard rosemary glaze, orzo with roasted vegetables, salt-encrusted beef tenderloin with a butter lettuce pesto, a delightful cheese course, and a white chocolate cheesecake topped with sliced strawberries.

It was delish if I do say so myself.

And a nice ending to this culinary decadence era as we lighten up a bit for summer. I can feel the gout settling into my toes as we speak. The kids got me a bike for Mother's Day that was thoughtfully delivered on Friday, so if the rain holds out we may take a debut ride.

If it does rain, then I guess the Olympic caliber kitchen cleaning will have to suffice as exercise today.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Ah, summer....

I am writing this tonight from my new laptop whilst watching the kids swim whilst sitting on the lanai whilst drinking a glass of wine whilst reminiscing of yesterday's first Thirsty Thursday whilst baking a white chocolate strawberry cheesecake for tomorrow's wine tasting event.

I love summer's whilst factor.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It seems as though those Nigerian Imperialists have made their way to Iraq...

Dear Sir,

I am Major.scott J.wright, an American soldier in peace keeping force in Iraq, I am serving in the military of the 1st Armoured Division in Iraq, as you know insurgents everyday and car bombs are attacking us.

We managed to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein's family in the tune of USD$ 45 Million Dollars in cash. We want to move this money to you, so that you may keep our share for us till when we will come over to meet you.

You are to take 40% of the total 45 Million Dollars and keep 60% for me and my partners. Please No strings attached, we plan on using diplomatic courier and shipping the money out of Iraq in three large silver boxes using diplomatic immunity.

The boxes can be shipped out in 48hrs,so If you are interested kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone numbers for quick communication, then we can send to you the shipment details and the fright number and labels.


major.scott J.wright.

Seriously, who is still falling for this?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Uh, oh, she's getting all mushy again

Ah, summer eve. The school year ends tomorrow morning.

I say that with the joy of a mother who is looking forward to spending some time--prefarably after 8 a.m.--with her kids for a while, but also with gratitude for what we all have in our school.

I truly believe that teachers are our partners in educating our children. It isn't a single-starring role, because teaching is a 24-7 job.

We are all blessed with people that come into our lives and inspire us in unexpected ways throughout our lifetime. It can come from teachers, friends, classmates, neighbors, family...there is simply no limit to the amount and variety of sources, just whether or not we recognize and welcome them in.

This year, I've watched each of my children grow and thrive in very different ways. It hasn't always been a smooth ride, but even those bumps have taught very valuable lessons. And as I look at them today I realize just how beautiful they all look wrapped in quilts with these different patches of inspiration.

I am proud of them.

I am grateful for them.

And I am grateful for all of those other teachers who wrapped them up.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Psst...June. Over here...

Why hello, June, I've been waiting all year for you. Because you seem like a really fun month.

For instance, in two short days school will be out and we can sleep a little longer on your mornings. We started a garden this weekend (more on that awesome project later) and I look forward to spending much of the month playing in the dirt with my kids. June also marks the return of "Thirsty Thursdays," that wonderful day of fun with friends. And let us not forget that we are all off to Palm Island for a break on the beach--a trip we all look forward to as a major highlight of the year.

And even working June seems to be pleasant. I have a few projects on the horizon that I am really looking forward to diving into.

And so welcome, sixth month, birthstone pearl, flower rose. Home of Flag Day, Father's Day, the Stanley Cup Finals, and summer equinox. I'm so glad you are here--make yourself comfortable and I'll go fetch you a cold glass of lemonade.