Thursday, April 30, 2009

What a Night!

I guess you can see from my change in the NativeMom header that I had a FANTASTIC night last night!! Quite the Cougar was I.

Daytona State College held a fundraiser for its new Swim program. Steve Lochte, the father and coach of USA Olympic Gold Medalist (and hometown boy) Ryan Lochte, has been recruited to bring the local community college's swim program to a whole new level. As a fundraiser, Ryan agreed to swim in a fun competition against another local hometown hero, Charlie Lydecker.

Charlie, a local businessman, is ranked second in the nation in his age group for competive swimming. At 45, Charlie has competed in the Alcatraz Escape from the Rock triathalon and is a true success story. He's also a very interesting guy who I've had the privilege of knowing for more than 15 years.

I was at the Splashdown fundraiser at DSC last night to root on Charlie. Getting to "Cougarhandle" Ryan Lochte (and Lydecker) was just a bonus. 

Several months ago, Wondertwin and I, in our first Cougarlike moment, determined that Ryan Lochte was so yummy he smelled like Chlorine and Cupcake. Last night, I challenged Wondertwin and my friend DangerMom to try and get photos of ourselves parked on the laps of unsuspecting and yummy Ryan Lochte. Only what we didn't know is that the Cupcake had body guards. So here is the result.

Oh well, no lap sit, but we had a fantastic time anyway. I took Beloved and Stepson along, since they are the family swimmers. Beloved swam competitively in high school and at the Naval Academy. Stepson was recently named MVP of his high school's swim team and almost made it to state level competition this year. Beloved got to meet one of his contemporary heroes. Below is a photo of him and Olympian Rowdy Gaines. 

Swim boys rock!

Update: Got several comments/e-mails asking who won the race. I was so transfixed by the abs I didn't even think you'd want to know that. Cupcake won, but Charlie was a sight to behold!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He's compensating for something

The photo above, courtesy of my bro-in-law Bryce, is of a guy in Orlando that Bryce has spotted a few times riding his bike around town. If you look carefully, you can see that he has welded two bikes together. I think he took a cue from Monster Trucks and has created Bigfoot, the Monster Bike. Bryce told me about seeing this unusual biker dude last week and I encouraged him to get a photo next time he spotted him. It was just too good not to share with you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can you remember your date's name after 72 years?

That was the question I was asking myself after my Mammaw shared her own prom memories with me yesterday.  MiniMe and I had dinner with Mammaw last night. She is 90-years young. I was showing her pictures of Stepson dressed to go to his prom last Saturday.

Mammaw went to her Senior High prom in 1937. That's her in the center of the photo, surrounded by her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. 

At first she couldn't remember the name of her date, although as she recalled, "I had a corsage, so I must have had a date." I guess the flower left more of an impression than the boy. In 1937, her high school held prom for its seniors in the school's gymnasium. Before the dance, the teens all were served dinner in the school cafeteria (though they weren't served cafeteria style, but waited on by the school staff). Her mother made her dress, but then again, her mother made everything she and her sisters wore. Even their underwear, I learned.

Then, the name of her prom date came to her. 

"W.T. Owens. He was killed in the war," she said.

Which made me think. When I share memories, I recall the names of friends and past dates with the description, "I went to high school with her," or "we grew up together on the same street," or even "we met in college." 

Sadly, just about everyone my Mammaw ever knew, from past loves, to best friends, even most of her family is now gone. Her stories (which I love by the way), unfortunately come with caveats such as "he died in the war," or "she died from cancer." I guess that's what happens when you live to be 90-years young. 

As I drove home, I thought about how sharp my Mammaw is and what an interesting life she has led. I don't know that 70 plus years from now I will remember the name of my Senior Prom date. 

Monday, April 27, 2009


Dinner out with Beloved, MiniMe and her best friend at the beach $40.00

Two inflatable hammers from the onsite gift shop $4.00

Enjoying the giggles of  happy, playful, barefoot little Florida girls? 


Perfect does not make memories Part II

Thanks to all of you who shared your own prom prep stories. Stepson had a "blast" (his word). Apparently, he was very popular as he danced with "about 50 different girls" all night long, reserving the slow dances for the one he brung, of course. The sweetest thing I thought about his prom experience was how he gushed about how "beautiful" the girls at prom were. Stepson is on the swim team, which has about 50 girls on the team. He is used to seeing them only at school and in their swim caps. No makeup. Hair wet. So the way he went on and on about how beautiful his fellow swim teammates looked in their dresses, hair and makeup was truly touching. I just hope the girls felt as beautiful as he obviously thought they looked. 

But the night wasn't perfect. Which I think is great. Perfect doesn't make memories. After running a little late but finally making it to the restaurant in time for his reservation, Stepson places a frantic cell phone call to Beloved.

Stepson: Hey Dad! How would you like to be the coolest dad in the whole world?

Beloved: Well, that depends. What do I have to do to become the coolest dad?

Stepson: Bring me the prom tickets I left in my car back at the house? I just realized I didn't have the tickets with me. Could you bring them up to the restaraunt so we don't run late to the dance?

Beloved: Well, considering we're now a half hour up the road on our way to dinner, I don't think I can do that.

Stepson: Oh, mannnnn. . . . 

Luckily for Stepson, his older brother did the hero duty and searched his backpack to find the tickets and then delivered them to him and his lovely date at the restaurant.

It reminded me of my first "real" date with a boy in high school. First time I got picked up by a boy from my house and taken out to dinner and a movie. Burger King then the early show. Only he forgot his wallet at home and I paid for dinner and the movie. He was mortally embarrassed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prom Prep

My Stepson is going to the Senior Prom. Not only is this his first prom, but it's practically his first real date. He's been a red-faced, fumbling, sheepish mess. It's been so much fun for me, the evil stepmom. Last week he asked me to take him to get his tux. The first question I asked was "What color is your date's dress?" 

Stepson: It's blue. Several different shades of blue.

NM: Have you actually seen the dress?

SS: Yes. Why?

NM: Because we'll need to match your tie and cummerbund to your date's dress. That's why you need to know the color.

SS: Really? Why do I have to do that?

NM: It's tradition. That way you match your date. 

SS: But I don't want to wear a blue tux!

NM: No, the whole tux doesn't have to be blue. Just the bow tie and cummerbund. 

SS: Do I have to? I want to wear all black and white.

NM: Well, it's tradition. 

SS: I just want to look like James Bond.

So you can imagine the look I got when we got to the tuxedo rental place last Friday and the first thing the salesman asked Stepson was "What color is your date's dress?" Oh yea, I got a look that communicated "Did you set this up in advance?!?"

Lucky for him, they were out of the color he needed to match. So he got his James Bond wish. And MiniMe and I got to tag along for the embarrassing tuxedo fitting. Below is the experience captured on film from MiniMe's perspective. 

By the way, I surprised him and paid for the tux to make up for using him as Blog fodder (and for being such a good sport with his little sister and her video camera). 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book Review

I've spent the last 2 weeks reading the book Columbine, by Dave Cullen. And I think everyone that knows me is now sick of hearing about it. That leaves me to ramble on about it to you guys. 

This past Monday was the 10th anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado. Dave Cullen has done a masterful job of taking 10 years of research, hundreds of thousands of pages of reports, evidence, and multiple interviews with everyone touched by the tragedy - from survivors to school staff to families to police investigators - and somehow managed to put it all in a book that is fascinating. 

I don't usually read this kind of thing. But I have to say, I've been really absorbed by it. Particularly because Cullen does such a thorough job of telling this story through everyone's own different and unique perspective. No easy task. 

What I've appreciated the most about this book is the first section which recounts the actual shooting and the media's coverage of it as it happened. I became interested in media affects and media agenda setting research in college and this is a case study in both. The first major tragedy to play out in the age of both cell phones and live TV coverage. Kids trapped inside the school were actually watching what was happening to them on TV and even calling in to talk to the media live on the air while they were crouched hiding in classrooms and broom closets. 

The other thing that has grabbed me so completely that I find myself talking about this book to complete strangers trapped in line with me at the grocery store, is that the killers were troubled teens, sure, but there was really just no way to see this coming or prevent it. The "checklist" for psychopathy that Cullen produces in describing the mental illness that affected one of the killers, could be a checklist for any teen today. Especially in an age when so much of the U.S. population is dealing with mental illness in their families. So to me, it was impossible to read this book and come to the conclusion that the teachers, administration, the killers parents or even their killer's own friends just ignored the signs that the tragedy could happen. 

If you can stomach it, this is a compelling read. I highly recommend it. But with a disclaimer, it can give you nightmares. I've had some sleepless nights. But I'm glad I read it. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weird & Wonderful

My ever-shrinking local newspaper carried two totally weird only-in-Florida stories today and one wonderful one. 

First the weird. Residents of a mobile home park in Fruitland fed an escaped circus monkey Coke, potato chips  and Twinkies long enough to alert his owner/captor to get to the park to retreive the wayward performer. The monkey, named Reggie, had been on the lam since March 13 when he had escaped during a performance at a Florida flea market. 

The second shark bite victim of 2009 in my little part of Florida alone was reported yesterday. Just a flesh wound. Surfers taste like chicken. Did I mention that I live in the shark-bite capital of the world? Really. 
Now for the wonderful. One of my favorite original Florida theme parks, Marineland, made news. The place known as the "World's First Oceanarium" officially opened its Dolphin Conservation Field Station yesterday. The Field Stat
ion is a partnership between Marineland and the Georgia Aquarium. A great example of the old and new working together. I got a chance to visit the Georgia Aquarium last year and I highly recommend it. But my first love will always be Marineland, located between St. Augustine and 
Daytona Beach on AIA. 

I remember the excitement of seeing the diver feed the dolphins and other sea life as I watched from one of the "porthole" windows conveniently placed at "kid level" along the sides of the Oceanarium. Saw my first eel at Marineland. View the history of the "World's First Oceanarium" here

News like this in my daily paper on a regular basis is just one more reason why I love living in Florida. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mom On Strike - No SCABS allowed!

I'm keeping a very close eye on a social experiment VOR is conducting this week. If it works, I may begin to put it in practice here at Casa NativeMom. But I'm hoping I won't have to. 

My friend VOR (Voice of Reason) is on strike. Mom Strike. She has two "kids" at home. I use the term "kids" loosely because one is age 20 and one is a teenage girl. Enuf said.

Seems the "kids" haven't been pulling their weight at Casa VOR. So she decided if the kids weren't going to do their chores around the house (clean their room, put laundry in the hamper, take out the trash, etc) then she wasn't going to do her "mom chores" either. And just like that, faster than you can say Norma Rae, she went on strike. I checked in with her yesterday, day 5 of her refusing to make dinner for the family every evening when she got home from a long day of work. By the way, VOR is a single mom, working full time and going to school part-time to get her master's degree. She's SuperWoman. 

So I asked "How's the strike going?"

VOR: Well, I'm on my way home from work. It's been 5 days now and I'm still not making dinner.

NM: Five days?!? So by now, the "kids" have worked their way through all the easy stuff like cereal, pop tarts, and microwave popcorn to eat for dinner.

VOR: Yep, all the fruit is gone and the soup. They're down to eating p-nut butter sandwiches and eating tuna straight from the can.

NM: How much longer do you think they will last?

VOR: They're already starting to break. But I told them, in order for me to come off strike, they had to show me two consecutive days of complying with the chore list. The youngest cleaned her room yesterday, so we'll see if she's done her chores today. If so, that would be 2 days in a row so I might cook dinner for her and I tomorrow night. 

NM: You know, I may try this.

VOR: I'll let you know if it works.

NM: Knowing my wily bunch, they'd probably bring in SCABS to do their chores or cook if I went on strike.

VOR: Yea, I already thought of that. No SCABS allowed. 

The Perfect Summer Camp

My conversation with MiniMe yesterday . . . 

NM: Your friend Libby's mom called today. She has signed Libby up for a summer camp and wanted to let me know the dates in case you wanted to go to camp with Libby. It's in June and it is a science and technology camp at the local college. 

MiniMe: Science camp?!? I don't want to LEARN anything over summer. Half the fun of summer vacation, no, all the fun of summer vacation is NOT LEARNING anything. 

NM: Well, I'm sure they would make it fun and you wouldn't even realize you were learning something. 

MiniMe: Who wants to learn science during summer break? The kids in the program will be like "Greetings Starfinder!" (as she holds her hand up in the Spock greeting sign from Star Trek. Then she begins to sing) The Milky Way's connected to the Star Field. . . The star field's connected to the . . .

NM: So you're saying that Science camp is for dorks?

MiniMe: (stilll singing) The Big Dipper's connected to the . . . YES!

NM: Well, I guess I should let Libby's mom know that if she signs Libby up for a summer camp where you sleep in each day, eat popcorn and chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, zone out watching cartoons, then take a break from the couch to swim in the pool that you'd be interested?

MiniMe: Don't forget about making brownies in the kitchen each day . . . and NOT cleaning up after the mess!

NM: Yea, what perfect summer camp would be complete without NOT cleaning up the mess . . . 

Monday, April 20, 2009

He's in the wrong 15%

I learned today that my dog Scout may be part of a small, rare group of dogs. Those that don't respond to 2 years of allergy injections. Poor Scout went for his monthly allergy shot today. He's in a bad way and looks like he has mange. If you are a human who suffers from allergy season, you will empathize. It was no surprise to find that yes, he has a skin infection. And yes, I had to break out the checkbook for skin scrapings, fungal tests and a round of antibiotics. At one point the doc asked if I had seen a difference in Scout since we started the allergy injections. I gave him an exasperated look with a hint of peavishness. I think the only thing I've noticed that has improved since I started giving the dog allergy injections is the model of car my veterinarian drives. That's when he said that about 15% of dogs just don't respond to allergy injections. Imagine that, my little overachiever! 

On the way out, the receptionist made some sort of comment about pet vet insurance. 

"Just what I need," I growled. "One more insurance company drowning me in daily paperwork to inform me that I have to provide proof of insurance, of coverage, that the doctor's visit/test/medication was necessary, and oh by the way, we're not covering that." 

With the paperwork our new insurance company has blanketed us with in the last 8 months, I could have wallpapered my entire house. The last thing I need is to jump through a bunch of hoops for vet pet insurance while they take my monthly payments and refuse reimbursement. 

You know at the very least I should be able to set up a flexible spending account for my vet bills. Maybe I'll write to Barack Obama. He's working on revamping health care, right? And now he's a dog owner. So, he'll understand. 

Friday, April 17, 2009


You may think my last post about being shocked at all the facial piercings flaunted by local high schoolers made me sound old, but here's something that makes me feel really old. I realized today that at some point along the way I started wearing shoes. All the time. Even indoors. What's up with that? I'm a Native Floridian for goodness sake! We don't need no stinkin' shoes! Especially in the house. 

Before the age of 30, I don't remember hardly ever wearing shoes, except at work. But as soon as I left the office, I'd toss the shoes in the backseat and they'd stay there until I needed them for work again the next day. It wasn't unusual for me to have 3 or 4 pairs of shoes in the car, like a rolling shoe closet. 

I drove my mother crazy by never having shoes on my feet. Especially when I got to be a teen and would take off for the day on my bike, or once I could drive, in my car, with no shoes. I used to keep a pair of shoes in the backseat of my car, just to appease mom. They were never on my feet. 

I went to a South Florida college and attended class barefoot nearly every day. Heck, some kids often had no more on than a bathing suit in class. So barefoot, no big deal. 

Now MiniMe wanders the earth without shoes. Beloved stays after her to put her shoes on before going outside, etc., but I don't push it too hard. After all, she is me. Since she took her first step, she has preferred to be barefoot. Like a true Florida girl.

I think I might just have to take a barefoot weekend. Avoid shoes at all costs. 

I know it is not socially acceptable most places to wander barefoot into public. But when did that happen? This is Florida? And please, all you germaphobes out there, don't chime in about unsanitary conditions. I'm not interested.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Out of touch

I'm feeling a little out of my comfort zone these days. I spent yesterday afternoon at a local high school. This is a large, well-respected public high school known for its stellar academic achievement. Call me naive. Call me out of touch. But I was shocked at how many high schoolers I saw with various face piercings. 

Now I know better than to be surprised that teens are doing things that circumvent the law. Just because our state law says you have to be 18 to get a piercing or tattoo, doesn't mean I'm surprised that 15 and 16 year olds are getting them anyway. That's not what caught me off guard. I mean it is the very nature of high school to rebel against authority. What caught me off guard was the sheer number of beautiful young ladies (and men) who had pierced their lips, eyebrows, tongues and noses. Ewww. Really? This is still considered a popular trend?

Kind of made me re-evaluate my to do list this weekend. See, my stepson has a date for the prom next weekend. So this weekend, I was planning to help him get the corsage ordered, coordinated with her dress color of course, and his tux all set. But now I'm thinking maybe all this traditional tux, corsage, prom stuff that I'm familiar with is completely passe. I mean if pretty 15-year-old honor students are piercing their lips and eyebrows, perhaps the whole notion of promwear and tradition has been turned upside down as well. 

Do young men give their dates corsages for prom anymore? I haven't met this girl yet. Geez, I hope she doesn't show up wearing a lip ring. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cruisin' Chicks

MiniMe and I really enjoyed our week of cruising together. How proud am I of my little cruisin' chick? She was an excellent travel companion. She displayed great manners, got along well with our traveling companions, made new friends, budgeted her spending cash wisely, and was an absolute delight to spend the week with. Great mommy-daughter time!

How lucky am I to have such a wonderful daughter? How fortunate am I, especially in this economy, to have the opportunity to travel with my girl? The trip made me very thankful for my great family, friends and my life in general.  I highly reco
mmend stopping to smell the flowers every once in a while. 

Just a few highlights:
Free ice cream . . . for breakfast!
"Vegetarian" Pina Coladas
Towel animals waiting for our return to the room each evening. (though not that creepy monkey towel animal, ewww)
Learning to do magic card tricks 
Free ice cream . . .for lunch!
An iceskating show . . . at sea
Dinner with our great wait staff Dragos & Gilberto, who make napkins more fun each night
Coming out winners at the arcade and the casino
Free ice cream . . . for dinner!
Collecting shells in Belize . . unbelizeable!
Swimming & snorkeling in Cozumel
Picking fresh herbs in the Mayan garden
The wave pool
Checkers and treats in the late night Cosmo Lounge
Exploring 15 decks of cruising fun 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Native Mom on Vacation

I am on vacation this week. That's right. Vacation. Cruising with MiniMe. So I won't be posting. Because Royal Caribbean charges an arm & leg for internet time. You'll miss me, I'm sure. 

Be back next week . . . with lots of fun stories and photos (hopefully). 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Because he can't find a real job

Sen. Jim King knows his time is running out. Term limits will force him out of his seat in the Legislature next year, where he's been since 1986. Prior to being a professional politician, King was in real estate. We all know how that industry is doing in Florida right now. So King obviously doesn't want to return to real estate. Not when he's used to the cushy life of benefits, state pension, voting himself a pay raise and being wined and dined by lobbyists. So he's planning on applying for the job of chancellor for the university system in Florida. 

Still wants to suck at the Florida teat. Remember, this is the same guy who thought raiding my child's Florida Prepaid College fund was a good idea.

Never mind that he's never taught a class at a Florida university. Never mind that he earned his bachelor's and master's in the 60's from Florida State University and doesn't hold a doctorate or probably even qualify for acceptance in a doctoral program. Every other Chancellor has held a doctoral degree and has University/College experience as a teacher and administrator. 

I guess being an old white guy who's spent the last 20 plus years being paid by the state makes him qualified?