Sunday, November 27, 2011


Another sculpture at the Brookgreen Gardens and this one has the honor of being the sculpture that took the longest to create.  Nine years in fact.  It is worth it.  And I say that knowing I wouldn't have the dedication to last nine hours on the project.
And a nature shot from the same beautiful place:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wide Open Florida?

I was telling my SIL, Katie, that if they came to visit us they would like it because we are staying at a park that is in the country this winter.  She said she didn't know Florida had "country".  So last week, while driving over to Avon Park, I decided to grab some pictures for her.  As we were driving, Austin and I talked about how so many people truly don't know there are rural areas in Florida so I decided to share them here too.

There are many places where there is undeveloped land.
There are many places where there are farms.

And I'll be honest, it is some of my favorite land to travel in Florida.  It is not maybe the prettiest view.  But it is peaceful.  Excuse the blurriness, because Austin was driving and he doesn't slow down for me like Nathan does.  Something about other people on the road and him not wanting to look lame and all.
And here's another shot of the double rainbow we saw.  This time with the "real" camera vs the cell phone camera.
I will try to get more shots when I have an agreeable driver escorting me.  In the meantime, enjoy some of Florida that does not look like Ft Lauderdale, Daytona or the Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Events

 When we first began the RVing lifestyle, we listened to "A Series of Unfortunate Events" on audiobooks while we made the three hour drive from our house to where our RV was set up.  The series is about a family of children that has one "unfortunate" thing after another happen to them.  Lately, I am feeling like I could be a star in this quirky book series.

 I normally get sick ranging from rarely to never.  In the past few months, I've managed to have one weird thing after another happen.  None of them that major except maybe having my gall bladder removed.  Still, each one has been painful and frustrating.  I twisted my ankle while in the OBX.  I then had the gall bladder infection leading to surgery.  We had an attack of the lovely little critters known as chiggers that was surprisingly uncomfortable.  I have had allergy symptoms off and on that range from the mild ones to the my head feels like it is in a vice ones.

 When we first arrived here I got pink eye in a more serious way than I ever have before.  Last week I was stung by a yellow jacket and had a funky reaction to it.  Yesterday I guess I decided to close the loop of unfortunate events by repeating the ankle twist.  Again.

Now I am sporting this look:

The good news is that it is only a sprain and nothing is broken.  The bad news is I can't walk on it so that means no holiday prep and no pickleball playing.  Luckily I do not work until Friday, so I can rest in the meantime.

I've decided I've had enough of this series and would like to begin starring in a new series.  I think something along the lines of Life is Good and my body is healthy and whole would be good.  In the meantime Nathan is waiting on me hand and foot and is even doing the housework.  I have had sweet friends here send me the kindest get well wishes.  I am getting to do some digital scrapbooking which I always love.  I think I'll focus on the gratitude I feel for those things instead of whining about the painful foot.  It is Thanksgiving week after all!

Living the still fortunate life in Florida!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Going Away Dinner at Paul's Kitchen

Since we have been coming to Peace River, we have enjoyed one of the local restaurants here.  The place isn't fancy.  The food isn't really fancy.  But it is good food at great prices and we love the comfortable feeling of the place.  The restaurant is named Paul's Kitchen but I think of it as Paul's House because the place is in what used to be a small house and it just feels "homey" to me.

  The staff is always great here.  Pleasant and efficient.  It is decorated in a simple style, but it neat and clean.  The most remarkable thing about this place though is the size of the meals.  They give you an insane amount of food for the price.  I love it because that means I never have to worry about lunch the next day!
Last night, many of the pickleball players gathered here to have dinner with Keith and Marie who are heading out today.  They are such a popular couple they ended up with a whole crowd, seventeen in all in fact!  Because the meals are so giant, they normally have to give you two plates each to hold it all.  So it was kind of comical seeing all of us trying to fit our meals on the table with so many of us.  They were so accommodating of our giant group, they even gave us free carrot cake for dessert.  I can't recommend this place highly enough.  It is the kind of place I would love to see our oldest daughter Ashleigh own someday!

I didn't get pictures of our time together, but you can read more about it and see pictures at Donna's blog here:  Florida Picklers.  I can be really lazy with picture taking when Donna or Faye are around because they always take pictures too!  And my kids don't hide their faces behind their hands when they are snapping shots so I manage to get a few great pictures of them too.

After dinner, Karen, Buddy, Nathan and I hit the courts to burn off our giant meals.  We had some great games with each of them being very evenly matched.  We are loving our time here this winter so far!  I look forward to many more great times as we move through the season.

Living the life in Florida!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lions, Tigers and Bears

Or maybe it is more panthers, otters and bears.  I love that the Wildlife Refuge is right across the street.  Even though it is quite small, it is great that I can scoot over there and visit for an hour or so and spend time watching animals.  They are all so beautiful in their own way.
There were two bears, but only one would come out to let me take his picture.
I told Nathan that I was going to see if I could get the cats to talk to me here too, after my experience in Hershey's Zoo.  Sure enough, the cat did the same thing here.  I talked and it would talk back.  I thought maybe there was something to me being a cat whisperer but then another lady walked up and the cat did the same thing to her.  Guess that is not my superpower after all.  I still enjoyed chatting with the cat, even if it was not exclusive.
What?  You have problems with your male leaving his dirty socks on the floor too?
The otters were surprisingly lazy today.
I'm not a fan of the above animal, but they are everywhere so I have to include some shots of them.  I am hoping to get over to visit this place more often this year, and hope to revisit the Lipizzaner horses too.  We missed both of them last year since we weren't here.

Living the life in Florida!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Snowbirds Are Arriving

I've noticed this past week that the park is beginning to really fill in.  I joked with Nathan that is must have turned cold everywhere else this past week.  While I joked about it, it does tend to work that way.  People stay further north until the cold drives them here.  We would normally do the same thing.  In fact, this is probably the earliest we have arrived in Florida and been able to watch as others trickled in. 

The nice part about the park getting fuller, is that there are more pickleball players.  I can't play on the mornings I work, and Nathan can't play weekdays.  We have tried to play some on our days off. 

It has been hot this past week, which means it is hard to play pickleball for very long without being exhausted.  So I'm somewhat glad for the excuse of playing in the late afternoon most days.  Donna works days, so she has been joining us at night too.  Art and Heddy usually join us and they are great fun to play with.  Julie joined us when she was here.  And today one of my favorite people, Karen, joined us.  We have had some great games because of the people that are playing. 
Notice the low flying plane in the one picture.  I'm not sure why he was flying so low, but I already had my phone out taking pictures so I went ahead and snapped the shot.

Austin and I saw a double rainbow while out and about today, and he tried to capture it with my phone.  Can you see it?
Living the life in Sunny and Hot Florida!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Such a Flirt!

Each time we visit the Wildlife Refuge, the ostriches amuse me.  They can be busy doing whatever, and when they see us they always make their way over to the fence.  Which is quite different than every other animal there.
They remind me of Ambir when she was young because they just move closer and closer posing for the camera.
And with their beautiful lashes, they end up looking like quite the flirt!  I'm ready for my close up, Mr. Deville!
Living the life in Florida!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hardee County Wildlife Refuge

Last night we went to a Happy Hour at Rich and Donna's place.  I forgot to take my cameras so you will have to go to Donna's blog to see how much fun we had.  I hope we have Happy Hours every single week this winter because we have time to chat with each other and the food is fabulous!

Today Austin discovered some very sad news.  He and Lee, the manager here, were the first on the scene of a very bad accident a few days ago.  Austin was understandably very shook up over what they witnessed there.  There were some very serious injuries involved.  He read in the paper today that one of the victims, a thirteen year old boy, passed away.  My heart ached over this news even without being a witness to the accident.  It is the kind of news that kicks every Mom right in the gut.  To be honest, I cried and cried when he told me.  I hate that this happened.  I hate that it happened because someone decided to drink and drive. 

I decided to grab my camera and go visit one of my favorite Peace River places.  The wildlife refuge across the street.  Although there are many neat animals there, my favorites today were the cats that were there.  We had to make nice to get past the ones guarding the boardwalk.
Once they saw we were determined to move forward, they formed a gang.  The black one was rather feisty.
Some were sitting on the guardrail, meaning they were pretty much everywhere.
They cheered me up a bit immediately.  I think it was mostly due to the babies.
 Have you ever seen a cuter thing than a baby kitten face?
Or maybe it was seeing the Momma with her babies.  It reminded me that although death is a tragedy that is gut wrenching when it involves a child, there is also always new life to celebrate.
I hate that any mother would have to know the pain the mother of this boy is living through right now.   I hate that my boy is feeling a portion of that pain due to his involvement.  I love that there is always new life.  And that it is how the circle of life is, sad and happy at the same time sometimes.  It's just one of those weird things in life.

Austin will be attending the viewing and the funeral. I am proud of his compassion and willingness to offer comfort during this horrible time and because I am his Mom, I'm worried about how this is affecting him.  So please send all the love and comfort you can for everyone involved.  Kiss your kids and tell them you love them.  Remember that no matter how hard it is to be a parent, it is a wonderful thing to have our children here with us. They are always our baby kittens, no matter how old they get.  And every single minute we have with them is precious.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boys and Girls Part Two

While I enjoy the differences between boys and girls, I am also fascinated by the dynamics of boys and girls when they are interacting together.  I'll let the pictures tell the story again.  Parents, you know the storyline, so feel free to narrate along in your head.

and we can all guess what happened between these the above and below pictures:
Repeat that about a hundred times a day, until you both hit puberty and learn to fight in other ways, and that is boys and girls together. 

One time I was on the phone with Kyanna and she says very matter of fact: Hold on a minute, I have to go and hit my brother. I hear the phone being put on the table, a whack, crying and then she comes back and picks back up where she left off. 

Luckily, they also get along really wonderfully sometimes.  This is my favorite shot of the whole day:

Aren't they the cutest things ever?  Love those kids so much!

Living the life in Sunny Florida!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Boys And Girls

This weekend is National Digital Scrapooking Weekend.  Which means I have sat glued to my computer for hours on end in order to download all the freebie goodies that were out there.  Because I am a woman, I used that time to multi-task and play with a new photo editing program too.

I went back to pictures that I snapped months ago and played around with pictures of my niece and nephew.  And while I was editing, I cracked up at what I saw.  Starting with this picture where I was trying to capture Prissy Missy doing the girl walk in the pool.  When I went to crop the picture, I noticed Wild Man off to the side doing his thing.
This got me to thinking about girls and boys and the differences between the two.  This is not a boys vs girls thing, because it isn't a competition about which is better.  We are just different is all.  In the case of Kyanna and David, they are both equally cute and sweet.  But they definitely have different focuses in life.  Let me show you what I mean.


Girls (unaware of Boy):
 and one last time, Boys:
Need I say more?  All the nurture in the world doesn't change some things and I'm glad.  It's nice to be who we are instead of fighting it so hopefully these two stay who they are, even when the world tries to tell them otherwise.  They crack me up!

Living the life in Sunny Florida!