Monday, January 31, 2011

Project 365~Jan 31

In case you can't tell, the place we are staying is beautiful.  It is a nice blend of resort like features and nature filled woods and water.  There are animals throughout the campground, some hidden, some in plain sight.  It keeps it interesting for us.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

FAQ-What Do Your Families Think About Your Lifestyle?

I've had more than one person ask me this and another question lately, so I thought I'd answer here too.  At least I don't think I've shared this FAQ here before. 

The short answer is: I don't know (and I don't care).  The long answer is, with my family: some of them have said they think it's very neat what we are doing and one of my sisters has expressed interest in doing it herself.  My Mom thinks it is very neat that we travel and I think she's shared she thinks it is great for the kids to get to see the world.

Nathan's family: I can say for sure that our travel buddies are supportive of us doing it.  The other brother/SIL haven't really said one way or the other what they think that I can recall.  If I had to guess, they probably think it's pretty cool we do this.  His Mom doesn't discuss the topic with us at all, so I can't say one way or the other what she thinks. 

Any extended family comments that have been made range from better you than me to I wish I could do it.  Same as pretty much anyone else we meet, in other words. 

Our grown children had more to say about it (to us at least) than anyone else.  Some of them were very upset because it meant we were moving away from them.  Some have said they think it's neat we did it because they know how much we've enjoyed it. Some think we're nuts.  Well, most of them think we're nuts for some reason or another.  Ambir told us this Fall when we got back to Florida that she didn't think we'd be content to stay in one place because we always have to be doing something new.  It surprised me that she sees us that way.  Yes, it really did surprise me.  I didn't know that about us.  Or maybe it's more that I didn't know we seem that way to other people.

For the most part, we really didn't ask people/family what they thought before we did it nor have we asked what they think about since we have done it.  It's our life, we are the only ones that can live it so we figure although people might have opinions, that is all they are.  The flip side to that is, we wouldn't think we had the ability to sway people's decisions with our opinions.  We want to live in freedom and we hope to extend that to others.

It's all good.

Living the life in beautiful Florida!  

Project 365~Jan 30

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Project 365~Jan 29

The fishing pier at day's end.  Such a peaceful place.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Project 365~Jan 28

This face carving is one of my favorite unexpected surprises when taking walks here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jan 27-Peeking through the Grass

It's been warmer here this week and we are enjoying the truer to Florida weather.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pickleball for Paws Tournament

Today we drove down to Peace River TT's in Wauchula to participate in a tournament.  This was a special one because it was a charity fundraiser.  Rich and Donna Donald are the ones who put this tournament on.  They did a wonderful job and raised a lot of money and supplies for a local animal shelter. 

Winners in the Pickleball for Paws Tournament

We played men's and women's doubles in the morning.  We then broke for lunch.  Next up was the mixed doubles.  Unfortunately it started to rain during that part of the tournament so we didn't get to finish the mixed doubles.  We had to just wrap up the tournament and leave due to the rain. 

So the winner's in the men's and women's competition:

Austin and I were thrilled we placed and we gave Nathan a consolation hug because he deserved to place.  After we left, we headed over to Paul's where Stan and Sally joined us for an early dinner.  We had a great day!

The Animals at Pickleball for Paws Tournament

I can't share about the tournament, without sharing some pictures of the animals that we were raising money for.  They were so sweet and so mild mannered, I saw quite a few I'd have loved to take home with me.
 This guy cracked me up.  I can just see him thinking, Pssstttt...hey you.....wanna help me break out????
Living the life in warmer Florida!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Hour for Austin and Charlotte's Birthday

Dianne graciously hosted a Happy Hour for Austin and Charlotte's birthday.  I was going to try to do a surprise party for him at the tournament we were going to.  Dianne asked him if his Mom was doing anything for his birthday and he said she offered to do the party.  I filled her in on the surprise party plan and she was going to help me out with that.  Then he asked her about the Happy Hour, so at the last minute she pulled of this one.  Thank goodness she is great at these and just rolled with it.  Thanks, Dianne!

I had my camera on the wrong setting so the pictures are awful.  I am glad I have these at least though so we can remember our time there tonight!

And here is my Project 365 picture for today-the lovely Charlotte:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Austin!

Today was Austin's 16th birthday.  He has been looking forward to this one for a long time!  Happy Birthday son!

Our sweet pickleball friend, Charlotte, has a birthday only a few days from Austin's so we had to celebrate with her too.  Unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture before we ate the cake, but at least we still had the writing left for this picture.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Project 365~Jan 21

Go this this way...Sandhill Cranes again.  Do you think this is a married couple?  I know that I often feel this way as half of a married couple.  More often than I'd like to admit, we are each trying to go our own way and do our own thing.

I work with a woman that has been married 53 years and has told me more than once that they both give and take.  They both try to help the other get what they need.

It has had impact on me that she has reminded me of this simple marital truth.  Even with all we've faced lately, we've tried to keep that truth in mind.  We've tried not to turn on each other in the midst of our pain and anger.  And we've done pretty darn well at it, if I can be so bold as to brag on us.  I'm glad because otherwise I'd be feeling like a total schmuck now that things are looking up.  Instead I'm able to high five Nathan and feel at peace with how I navigated that storm with him.

But we both know that doesn't mean tomorrow we might be at odds over the smallest, dumbest thing again.  I might be going this way and he might be wanting to go that way (and not simply following me!).  We'll figure it out though.  We'll keep at it until we do.  Because we want to make it to 53 years and counting too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Project 365~Jan 20

The second batch of cookies in my quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there.  This one can be found here: NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Nathan thinks this one is the best chocolate chip cookies he has ever had!

Waiting to Exhale

After holding our breath for what felt like far too long, we were able to exhale yesterday.  Nathan went on a job interview for a job he really, really wanted and they hired him.  I didn't realize how much I was even holding it in until he called me to tell me the news.  You know how it is when you are going through something rough and you are just putting one foot in front of the other to get through it...and then there is a point where the fullness of it hits you.  That was us yesterday.

So while I'm thrilled, I'm also feeling flooded with other emotions at the same time.

It's not just the "we are worried about finances" that had us feeling so emotional.  We've had a year, or maybe more like the last six months, where we felt some of those closest to us in life promised things and then didn't deliver.  Things that ended up costing us in some pretty significant ways.  Ways that the other people just didn't seem to grasp no matter how much we shared our view of the matter with them.  Ways that the people still don't grasp.

We've been slow to react to that reality, mostly because we wanted to believe the promises.  It's amazing what you'll believe simply because you wish it were so.  I read somewhere during that time that it is painful to face your character flaws when you see them and it is also painful to face the character flaws in those closest to us.  So it was some of that.  And it doesn't matter who it was or what it was because it could be anyone and anything that happened because stuff like this does happen.  It's just life stuff...stuff that happens when you are human and have relationships with people.  But still painful.  Really, really painful.

On the other hand, during that same time period we had people extend themselves in ways that I'm still humbled (and to be honest-uncomfortable) with.  There has been a level of graciousness and just pure love that we weren't looking for from the people and yet it is exactly what we needed to still believe in the overall goodness of mankind.  Some of the people are our pickleball friends and some are the people we've just met that work here.  People that weren't just concerned about how we'd make it, but did something about it until we did find our way again.  I didn't want to stay put at this park but it ended up being exactly where we were supposed to be for now.  So it's been ok...actually it's been amazing.....just weird.

I'd love to just be sunny about it because it is REALLY great news.  I'm grateful in ways that I can't even express in words.  Yet, I feel the knot in my shoulders from the stress tonight so it wouldn't be completely honest to just say YAY and not be real about the parts that are hard. 

It's life...we'll find more solid footing again and we know that it will be ok in the end.  In the meantime, I'm doing some deep breathing to release the tension and trying to wrap my brain around the reality that we had exactly what we've been waiting for arrive yesterday.  Wrapped up in the most beautiful bow and delivered just in time.

Living the life!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project 365~Jan 19

It's a full moon tonight!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project 365~Jan 18

I don't mean to rub it in to the rest of the country, but it was in the 70's today.  So I had no problem getting outside and snapping picture after picture.  In the end, I liked this shot the best.  Since I can't recall having Spanish Moss in Michigan or Virginia, I'm still fascinated by it being here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Project 365~Jan 17

The Finishing Touch-for Austin's bike.  Someone gave him this cute little horn and it makes the cutest little "toot" sound!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project 365~Jan 16

Today was the nicest weather we've had all week long, so I spent as much time outside as possible.  I noticed many other creatures doing the same.  Can you see the fire ants hidden in this picture?  For those that live in this area, you understand what a pain (literally) these little buggers are!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Project 365~Jan 15

Guy Stuff-Austin is fixing up his bike which means spare bike parts are in our yard.  I guess as long as you have a guy around, there will be things like this lying in your yard.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Family That Works Together

No picture for today, because I planned to take a picture but Nathan ate the subject matter before I could capture it.  I guess you can just imagine the picture instead.  Picture a big basket of hot fish and chips and think of how good they look and smell.  Ok, now we are ready for the story.

Tonight the kitchen here at Thousand Trails did a fish and chips dinner.  Austin usually volunteers but he went to work with Dad today.  So Mom volunteered to fill in for the volunteer.  This is my first time working one of the dinners and I had a blast.  Aric was working, of course, and he is quite the pro in the kitchen by now.  He is so smooth in the kitchen, you hardly know he is around.

Austin ended up getting back in time to help shortly after we started, so we both stayed.  He did an incredible job too.  He's great with the customers and he is great at doing whatever he can to help out.

It was a very cool things to be in the kitchen with he and Aric and watch them working.  People brag on them all the time to me, telling me what great guys they are and what great workers they are.  I loved seeing it for myself.

We are in the process of trying to find another business that we can do, that allows for us to work together as a family if possible.  Tonight reminded me of why we enjoy that so much.  It is not too much longer when all of my birds will have flown the coop.  I'm trying my best to enjoy the last few moments with them that I do have.

Oh, and for the record the food was incredible tonight.  I can say that because I had nothing to do with it at all.  I simply scooped and arranged it.  All the real work was done by the rest of the crew. 

Aric, Becky, Jeannette and Stewart did all the hard work when it came to the food.  A funny little note about Stewart before I close tonight.  He is from Australia I think and so it's hard to understand what he is saying at times.  Imagine standing next to a guy trying to keep up on frying fish for about 150 people and all you hear is "something, something...bloody #$%@...something, something..."  You say, "What????" and he answers by saying a completely different sentence that you can still only make out the bloody #$%@ part.  Then imagine this going on for two hours until you want to laugh hysterically even though you honestly have no idea what on earth he is saying.  This makes working alongside of my guys an even richer experience to say the least.

Living the life in interesting Florida!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project 365~Jan 13

The Mayor!

When Austin was younger, our neighbors called him the mayor for two reasons.  The first was because he knew and loved everyone, and they all knew (and tolerated) him.  The second was because he knew *everything* that went on in our neighborhood.

Now that he's grown up, he's gotten a bit better at this.  He still likes to be in the know but not quite like when he was younger.  I guess that meant there was an open position since he's moved on to other things.  It didn't take Ava long to fill that post since she arrived.  This is her favorite place to sit if we aren't up in our bed with her.  She knows all that is happening in our neighborhood and keeps us informed of anything important.

Today I came home from lunch, walked her, rubbed her belly, fed her, rubbed her belly, grabbed something quick to eat, rubbed her belly and headed back out.  I hear her barking.  That's odd, I think, she doesn't really bark now that she's settled in to our home.  I go back in and realize I forgot something important.  The blind is down.  She can't see a thing!

I pull the blind up and she jumped up there right away.  She didn't even notice me snapping this shot because she was so engrossed in catching up on today's business!

The really funny part is she can see the pickleball court from her perch, so she'll watch us play if we leave her behind.  She's too cute.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Project 365~Jan 12

Our Neighbors-For Today.  Living this lifestyle makes for an unusual arrangement when it comes to neighbors. We have an ever changing neighborhood and that can be a great thing sometimes and a sad thing other times. 

Most full time RV'rs joke that if you don't like your neighbors, you can just move.  Now that we are staying put for a few months that is not the case.  We have to wait for them to leave or we're bummed because the ones we love do always leave. 

Last night when I went to bed, not one person was in this row pictured (across from our RV).  Tonight when I walked home from work, this is what I saw.  Makes for a very unpredictable environment to say the least.  Because I'm weird, I love that part of this lifestyle.  It's like Christmas every single day in that I never know what gift will be there in the way of neighbors.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Hour Queen Returns to Clermont

We've had quite a few happy hours here lately, but we had to have one more because Diane who is "the Happy Hour Queen is back.  I forgot my camera so you'll have to go to Donna's blog to see the pictures.

Nathan and I are practicing for a pickleball tournament and I've noticed something.  When we play against the guys, they play much harder against me this year than they did last year.  I got hit twice today, and both times I was so glad because it reminds me to get my paddle up and that they aren't going easy on me so I need to stay focused and in the game.

Beyond that, we haven't been up to much because it's COLD again so I'm staying inside and doing some baking.  I tried two different cookie recipes today, to see which one we like best.  I asked Nathan if the first batch was better than my regular cookie recipe and he wisely answered, "It's hard to compare awesome to awesome."  I'll try to remember to report the results from the other two guys who will be more honest with me. 

In the meantime, here are the NY Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Project 365~Jan 10

We had a rainstorm that dropped a lot of rain today.  Normally it rains a bit and then stops.  Today it decided to hang around for a bit.   When I walked home from work, there was still rain all over the hoods of the cars and trucks.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Project 365~Jan 9

My sweet girl, Ava, sleeping on our bed.  She sleeps with her eyes just a little bit open, so it's hard to tell if she is sleeping or not.  Ashleigh does the same thing, so we figure that is just more proof that Ava was meant to be one of us. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Project 365~Jan 8

Each day I get to walk to and from work.  I am walking to work in early daylight and as the sun is setting.  I love that I get to experience both firsthand.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Project 365~Jan 7

Sandhill Cranes~They are a common sight at the park we are at.  Nathan tells me they are almost extinct though so we feel honored that they are here.  I went outside to spend some time with them tonight, just as the sun was going down.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Project 365~Jan 6

We are big believers of reusable water bottles and I especially love mine because it is a pretty pink color.  If you see me on the pickleball court, I'll most likely have this water bottle and this sports towel with me.  If I have these and a paddle, I'm ready for action.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dean!

Rich and Donna arrived here this week, and we are thrilled about that since we haven't seen them since Peace River.  Donna is the one who kept encouraging me to get out there and play pickleball and I'd have most likely quit if it weren't for her and Karen.

She said something yesterday about it probably being too late to do a Happy Hour this week, but maybe next week.  I told the guys that while we were on our way to grab some groceries for the week.  The Happy Hour King (Austin) thought it was no problem to do one this week.

Since I'm crazy, I agreed.  So Austin invited everyone to come to one THAT DAY...and everyone of course pulled it together with no problem.  Even a bit of rain didn't slow us down.  We just moved to the Rec Hall and did it there.  The ladies amazed me with all of their goodies that they brought even with the "no notice" ahead of time.  Especially Vicki and Margie.
 We've been to lots of Happy Hours, but this was one of the most special ones because it was also Dean's birthday party.  Dean is the Grandparent to the really cool kid, Gavin.  You know, the one who is a falconer.  If you know Dean, it isn't a surprise that Gavin is so cool.  It runs in the family.

 Dean is one of those sunny people that just brightens the world.  You can't help but be in a better mood after hanging out with Dean.  His smile alone will warm you right up.  (Why do I hear Bob cracking up as I write that?) He's also one of those people that you feel sees something good in you, so when you spend time with him you begin to believe it yourself.

His wife Margie is pure sweetness, so they make a great pair.
Hope your birthday wish comes true, Dean!
We had a great time, surrounded by some of our favorite people! 

Living the life in friend filled Florida!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project 365~Jan 4

The year before last, I did Project 365.  If you aren't familiar with it, it is a project that has you taking one picture a day for a year.  It is really easy to do that when you are traveling all the time.  We'll see how hard/different it is to do with us staying in one place for the winter.  I probably won't add my pictures here each and every day, but I'll share some of them here.

Tree Art~This neighborhood had all kinds of interesting trees like this.  Very different!