Thursday, January 29, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor, who's moving

Buh-Bye State Farm! Don't let Florida hit you in the ass on the way out. And take your other business with you. If you're not man enough to stand up to Florida's weather, you don't qualify for getting our car insurance, either!

But that's just my opinion . . .

Why U2 is the Best Band Ever!

With all due respect, Beatles, Rolling Stones. Beloved and I were discussing this weekend's Superbowl last night and we both agree that the best Superbowl halftime show ever was in 2002 when U2 performed. Watch this and you'll understand why they are the greatest band ever!

Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, that's how it's done. You suck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fancy Lunch

My sister and I started something we call "Fancy Lunch" years ago as a way to entertain ourselves and visit with each other at the same time. We recently had Fancy Lunch in Heathrow to celebrate her birthday (29 again!) and brought the husbands along. Which meant we couldn't really play our usual game - Trophy Wife Hunt. 

Sissy lives in Winter Park. I live on the coast.  Every now and then, I'll meet her for an afternoon of shopping and Fancy Lunch in her neighborhood. We dine at a sidewalk cafe on ultrachic Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, drink wine and see who can spot the most Trophy Wives. I'm pretty good at this, even with my poor eyesight.

How do you spot a Trophy Wife you ask? I'll share my hunting tips with you if you promise not to tell anyone else - Trophy Wives can be very elusive. (Well elusive at the kind of places I usually frequent like the grocery store and Walgreens.)

Signs of the Winter Park Trophy Wife:
Big hair
Even bigger designer purse (that cost more than my last car)
Lots of jewelry, especially a gigundous diamond ring
She's wearing Big Ass Sunglasses like she's trying to avoid papparazzi
High heel strappy sandals showing off a perfect pedicure
Clothing that is much to tight and sexy for her age
Carrying a miniature dog dressed in clothing

Sometimes, you can hear them coming. The belly growls because the typical Trophy Wife eats only organic lettuce and drinks designer water. 

Last time Sissy and I played this game, the gay couple sitting next to us asked if they could play along. We welcomed them to the game but warned them, we were experts and were likely to kick their asses! Actually, we had met our match. Gay men are unusually adept at spotting trophy wives. Who knew!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'd be exhausted before I got on the board

. . .but WonderTwin handles it with ease. Watching her climb into her wetsuit before surfing a couple of weeks ago was not only funny and entertaining, it wore me out just watching her. After struggling into the suit, she then spent an hour in the water on her surfboard - paddling around, catching waves, eating surf and paddling around some more. Then she had to get out of that thing. And I thought my leather riding chaps were tough to get in and out of.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sugar Freeze

We don't often see prolonged cold snaps in Florida, at least not in our neck of the woods. So to have an entire week of freezing or nearly freezing temperatures was great. Great because it gave the kids a chance to roast marshmallows in the fireplace . . . .every night. 

We might use our fireplace 6 times a year. It just doesn't get that cold. And when we do use it, we take the lazy way out and usually get the chemical logs from the home depot. But this year, with the cold before Thanksgiving and the number of consistently chilly nights since, we've kept a stock of firewood . . . real wood . . .in the garage. So the kids have taken full advantage and have wiped out bag after bag of marshmallows every week. 

I get my firewood from a local homeowner who has an "honor system" for selling his firewood. He's got a large plot of land, almost a farm but maybe not big enough to call it a farm, and he keeps stacks of firewood out by the road for the taking. You just pull in, load your truck with a pre-cut stack of wood and drop your $20 in the coffee can. Sometimes, he'll even come out and help you load it. Last time I got a load of wood, a fellow "customer" helped me with my purchase. 
Some nights the kids have gone to the trouble of actually making smores, but most nights they just roast and eat the marshmallows. While I might be wishing the freeze would come to an end, the kids are on a sugar high!

You haven't had pancakes like this before

One thing that should definitely be on your list of things to do/places to see in Florida before you die is enjoying the do-it-yourself pancake breakfast at the Old Sugar Mill inside DeLeon Springs state park. I could tell you all about it, but it's better if you get the kid's eye view.

Read my buddy Carson's (aka Blogger-Boy-Extraordinaire) blog entry about the Old Sugar Mill experience.

Kids Need Recess

Let them play! That's the recommendation from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Their study points out that the growing trend of reducing free time for play in elementary school is negatively affecting classroom behavior and important social development in children. 

By reducing the time children spend during the school day on recess, physical education, creativity and the arts, we're contributing to childhood obesity and robbing children of the positive socialization and much-needed outlet for play that supports children's ability to focus in the classroom. 

Give 'em a break. Children need more time to play. Can I get an Amen, Sista!!!  And don't even get me started on how much homework they shove at kids these days.

I know it may seem petty, but the biggest problem I have with MiniMe's school is a lack of time in their day for socialization. Learning to make friends and get along with other kids is just as important as learning your 9-times-tables, if you ask me. (not that anyone did). For instance, and this drives me absolutely insane, at MiniMe's school, the children all cram into an inadequately sized cafeteria where they sit at long narrow tables facing each other and . . . they're not allowed to talk to each other. Voice level Zero is their term for it. If kids can't talk to each other as they sit across from one another - hell practically on top of each other - during lunch, when can they get a break? Isn't that what lunchtime is for? To make it worse, the Cafeteria Nazi, er, I mean Manager, stands around throughout lunch screaming into a microphone giving kids orders like "clean up" "voice level zero", crap like that. I wonder if she realizes the cafeteria would be a much more peaceful place if she wasn't screaming into a microphone like a banshee the entire time. I thought about complaining to the Principal the first year MiniMe was at this school, but then I saw the Principal emulating the Cafeteria Nazi in the cafeteria one afternoon and realized this was a "top down" problem. 

So listen up Cafeteria Nazi . . . Principal who's only concerned about test scores . . . Let Them Play!!! The world will be a better place for it. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Carnivore Bikers

I've been trying to get back on my vegetarian diet. I fell off the vegi-cart, so to speak, over the holidays. But I've been successfully back on the vegi diet for almost a month now. It's hard. Especially when you're hanging out with bikers.

Now if you've  never had the experience of riding from biker bar to biker bar with a group of friends, it's not exactly a tour of healthy living. Cold, cheap beer, fried foods, and lots of meat. Meat on sticks, deep-fried meats, meat smothered in onions and peppers, meat in a bun, grilled meats, bar-b-qued meat. It's a carnivore's delight. 

So I had a hard time trying to find something on the menu at most of the places where our little Saturday afternoon tour led us. Luckily, it's Florida, so there's usually a fish sandwich or some shrimp to be had. (I know, eating seafood isn't exactly strict vegetarian, it's pescatarian. But I figure fish eat other fish, shrimp are really just bugs and shellfish are just bi-valves. Does a scallop have a brain?)

To clarify, I try not to eat anything with two or four legs. Fish don't have legs. Shrimp have more than 4 legs. So that's my philosophy. 

But when you pull up to a diner that was converted from an old gas station in the middle of North Florida where the closest town is named for a potato - Spuds - you won't find tofu on the menu. 

We met up with my cousin and some of his riding buddies in St. Augustine on Saturday at a place called Hurricane Patty's. Great food! And lots of seafood options. So I was happy. 

Then it was off to Palatka. A pit stop on the way to the before-mentioned gas station-turned diner, and unless I wanted a meal of coleslaw, it was just not happening. 

Next stop Palatka and a place on the river that I can't remember the name of now. While my cousin and his buddies continued on their quest to sample the hot dogs and cheeseburgers of every establishment in their search for the best of each, I had a shrimp sandwich. 

We've got Bike Week coming up, and I'll have to pack some granola bars. Typical bike week fare includes pork chops, sausage, corn dogs, burgers, barbeque sandwiches, hot dogs, fried bologna sandwiches and something called a cow patty. Don't ask. 

I can usually find an ear of corn on a stick and some boiled peanuts. But it's not exactly a vegetarian-friendly event. 

Don't know why deep-fried tofu on a stick hasn't caught on with the bike-week crowd . . .

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Raising a Florida Native

That last post got me thinking of some of the other do's and don'ts when it comes to raising a Florida Native. So I made a list. Feel free to share additional list items. Gotta make sure I cover everthing. 


  • When they can begin eating solid food, be sure to introduce the following Southern staples: grits, boiled peanuts, chicken and dumplings, pecan pie and key lime pie, tomatoes (fried or otherwise), hush puppies, greens (turnip or collard), homemade biscuits and cornbread, fried okra, watermelon, fresh picked wild blackberries, clam chowder, fried shrimp and fish.
  • Help them learn to identify good snakes from bad snakes. We’ve got both.
  • Once they move beyond mother’s milk, put Sweet Tea in the sippy cups.
  • Teach them to fish with worms, bait fish (caught with a cast net) and to catch crabs using a chicken neck tied with a string. You know the old saying, “If you give a man a fish . . .”
  • Introduce to their vocabulary our Southern sayings such as fixin’, over yonder, ya’ll, and might could.
  • Teach them to swim as soon as they can crawl. Florida’s full of swimming holes, backyard pools, retention ponds, beaches, rivers, lakes, streams and ponds.
  • Teach them to expect there to be alligators and/or snakes in every body of water bigger than a rain puddle.



  • Let them out without sunscreen. Our generation of Florida natives survived without sunscreen for a while . . . now we’re paying.
  • Expect them to wear shoes. Might as well get used to the hot summer sidewalks now.
  • Let Pappaw teach them his own favorite Southern vernacular as it will probably offend.
  • Let them grow up without an appreciation for the wildlife, flora and fauna
  • Neglect to explore all that real Florida has to offer, rivers, forests, beaches, swamps, farms, historic sites, trails, springs
  • Ride with the car windows up all the time. Florida was made for riding along the highway with the wind whipping through the car.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Raising A Florida Native

I sometimes beat myself up for not being a better mom. But then again what parent doesn't think from time to time "Am I doing this right?" Only with me, somedays I wonder, "Hmmm, is this gonna come up one day with MiniMe and her therapist?"  

Sure, I want to provide the best for her. A good education. Lots of love and attention. Help with figuring out the big, bad world. I'm pretty good at the talking stuff. We discuss just about everything. She comes to me with her problems. I (sometimes) manage to make everything all better. 

But I realized today that I've been lacking in one important area of her child-rearing lately. That is raising a Florida native and teaching her all the things that make growing up in Florida a one-of-a-kind experience. I think I have FloridaCracker to thank for this recent insecurity. After reading his blog about teaching his students about shrimp, I realized I had not taught my daughter one of the basics of Florida native living - catching, cleaning and cooking shrimp. 

In fact, MiniMe doesn't like shrimp. I'm pretty sure that will change as her elementary-school-age palate matures. But I realize on this shrimp thing, I'm gonna have to get some help. 

First there's the catching shrimp part. I can't throw a cast net. And I don't do well on boats (seasickness). So looks like this is gonna require the help of SuperMimi. She may be 5 foot 2, with itty bitty stick-like arms and elbows sharp as razors, but she can handle a cast net with the best of 'em. In fact, of everyone in our family, my mom, SuperMimi, is the best fisherman (fisherwoman? fisherperson?) by far. 

I do know how to clean shrimp (yep, I'm good at this and learned it from SuperMimi when I was about MiniMe's age). I can even cook them several different ways. So I've got that part covered. 

I guess it's a good thing that SuperMimi announced her retirement recently. Maybe she'll have time to give MiniMe (and possibly me, NativeMom) a cast-net lesson. 

Remembering a Great American Artist

I let out an audible "oh noooo!" this morning when my computer's screen filled with the daily news page and I saw that the great American artist Andrew Wyeth had died. He passed away in his sleep at the age on 91. He has always been one of my favorites. I know this is a blog about Florida and living in the sunshine state, and Wyeth doesn't meet either of those criteria. But he does hold a special place in this NativeMom's heart. And here's why.

I've always been a creative type. As a kid I loved to draw, sketch, paint for hours. In fact, I proclaimed at an early age - maybe 3? - that I was going to be an artist. Then in college I realized I didn't have what it took to be a an artist and moved on to other things. 

I'm not quite sure how I happened to come across it, but I remember distinctly in fourth grade seeing Andrew Wyeth's iconic "Christina's World" (pictured above). I was fascinated by it. Who was she? What had happened to her. The painting itself was so interesting with each blade of grass and wisp of hair seeming to float off the page. It was mysterious. It was fantastic. 

I managed to find a poster of "Christina's World" that fourth-grade year and hung it over my bed. In 2006, when the Philadelphia museum put together one of the most complete retrospectives of his work, I searched all the travel sites trying to figure out a way to get to Philadelphia to see it. 

Thank you Andrew Wyeth for igniting a spark in a young, art-obsessed little girl and for keeping the spark alive well into adulthood. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

He's got a point . . .

My friend and fellow Florida Native Blogger at made a great point on his blog today. 

He wondered aloud if anyone found it ironic that the Chiles Endowment Fund, created from funds gained when the late Governor successfully sued the pants off Big Tobacco in Florida, is now being raided by the current GoverCrist to prop up the dismal state budget so that lawmakes don't have to increase the tax on cigarettes in Florida (already one of lowest taxes on tobacco in the nation). 

I bet Gov. Chiles is choking in his grave!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pose-Able Thumbs

Yesterday, I observed MiniMe talking to the dog. She was holding up a gift bag in front of him and teasing him about something. 

"You see Scout," she was saying. "I can pick this up and you can't! That's right, because I have pose-able thumbs and you don't! See, pose-able thumbs. And pose-able fingers, too," she continued wiggling her fingers in the dog's face. He did not seem impressed in the least. 

I stepped in to correct her. 

"Actually, MiniMe, it's opposable thumb. Not pose-able. OPposable. It's called opposable because it is able to move opposite of the fingers."

Just then a loud SNORTT sound came from the dog. I think he was laughing at MiniMe's linguistic mix-up. 

Closest I'll Get to Lottery Win

The first time I ever had a friend from school come home to spend the night with me was in the third grade. It was my friend Maria, we were 8-years-old. 

Flash forward some 30 years later and Maria and I are still friends. In fact, she was one of the Florida Moms Gone Wild in the post about my trip to Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival. We attended school together from elementary through high school. We made fake IDs together before going off to college. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding.  We get together twice a year at least but keep in touch in the meantime. 

And yesterday, I found out that her mom won the lottery. So I figure this is the closest I'll ever get to lottery winnings. 

Good for them!!! 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

There is no PTA in Tallahassee

Could the reason that our public school system in Florida is so broke be that funding decisions about our state are being made by our legislators in Tallahassee, a bunch of stellar Florida public school graduates? Perhaps in running for office, they were told there would be no math. 

Sorry, the whole lot of them. I say replace every single legislator - democrat and republican - with the head of the PTA from every school district in Florida. These are people that can get things done on a shoestring!

Who's with me!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

MiniMe and I made our first foray into the neighborhood last evening to begin taking orders for Girl Scout cookies. This is MiniMe's 4th year in Girl Scouts and the entire reason she puts up with the field trips, arts and crafts and camping all year long is so she can sell these cookies. She lives for this stuff! And of course, Girl Scout cookies practically sell themselves. They're delicious, you support a good cause by buying them, they're only around once a year and they're sold by adorable little girl scouts.

MiniMe, who's never really lacking in self-confidence, was quite full of herself last night as we began going door to door. She actually said at one point, "Who can resist girl scout cookies especially when they're sold by a cute girl scout like me!" And she was mostly right. We visited 11 homes last night; eight people were home and all but one bought cookies. In fact, in only an hour, she managed to sell 33 boxes of cookies. But the real excitement starts in February when the cookies are delivered and she gets to hawk Thin Mints to strangers in front of storefronts around town. She has a secret weapon, she tells me. "Mom, I just use my 'cute face' and people have to buy cookies from me, they can't say no!" She's kinda right again. It takes a real grinch to turn down a smiling little girl in a girl scout uniform. She would stand in front of Wal-Mart selling Peanutbutter Patties and Caramel Delights every weekend if we'd let her. 

She's a born salesperson. One day, I'm counting on this paying off not just for her, but perhaps for me in my retirement years. I just try to make sure she uses this skill of hers for good not evil. For instance, I let her know that selling 400 boxes of girl scout cookies is great. Selling rocks to kids in the neighborhood for $1 each, maybe not so good. Of course if a neighbor kid is dumb enough to hustle up a dollar from their folks to buy a rock from my daughter . . . well, there's gotta be a life lesson for them in there somewhere. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

No resolve

You know how you can tell it's a new year? Walk into the nearest Barnes & Noble. There to greet you will be a display full of workout, diet, and lifestyle books. Apparently, Americans all need to go on a diet and start a new workout routine after the New Year. Then there's the silly radio and TV "personalities" all talking about resolutions. Call me crazy, but I wasn't tempted to form any resolutions this year. I kinda like my life the way it is. So here is my "anti-resolution" list for 2009. Things I could do differently or change . . .but I won't! 

This year I could . . . 
Bathe the dogs more than once a week, which will make them and my house smell better and cut down on the tumbleweeds of dog fur covering everything. 
Exercise even though I hate to sweat or exert myself physically. 
Drink more water.
Charge my cell phone before it wakes me up at 2 a.m. bleaping its energy warning every week.
Remember the birthdays of my friends and family and actually send a card that's not "belated."

All things I could do, but I won't. I mean, let's face it, I'm 40-something and I hate to exercise and drink water. I just don't see the point in trying to change that. I'm not overweight or dehydrated. So forget it.

The dogs hate to get a bath anyway. I know because they hide from me when I turn on the water in the tub. 

The fact that I do eventually send a real paper card, through the U.S. Postal Service, with a stamp and everything, has got to count for something. It's better than one of those lame "e-cards." 

If you think I should give some of the above mentioned changes a real effort, then call me . . . on my cell phone. Ooops, it's dead again. Never mind. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

The end is near

The end of my vacation is very near. Only the weekend is left. It's been very relaxing but also productive. I got a lot of things on my neverending "to do" list accomplished such as cleaning out closets, getting my day planner ready for the new year, going to the drycleaner, cleaning up my office and organizing my files. I also got a new computer. Now that was not on my to-do list or my Christmas list. Alas, my poor old computer (it was 6 years old and had already been upgraded once), went to sleep and wouldn't wake back up again. So now I've got a shiny new computer and I spent all day re-installing all the software, my settings, address book, etc. It will continue to be a work in progress. 

As you may have noticed, I took a little break from NativeMom during my vacation. I just needed a break from my computer all together. But I'm back. I know, you missed me didn't you!

We had our biennial Florida Family New Year's Eve party this week. It was great! It works like this . . . we invite all our neighbors and friends, especially those with kids. We heat up our swimming pool to sauna like proportions. We cook up a bunch of great food. We bathe the dogs so they won't offend (too much). We drag out and clean up the fire pit. Then our friends and neighbors show up with their families. The kids swim all night long (because the pool is warm and it's really neat to be swimming on New Year's Eve). The adults get to eat and talk, actually finishing a sentence because the kids are entertained. The teenagers set their bedroom up as the ultimate video game den and invite their friends over. We roast marshmallows and make Smores by the pool. We treck through the woods to the pond to shoot off fireworks aroud midnight. Everyone has a great time. The kids are exhausted and sleep in the next morning. Yeah!!!

Swimming, Smores, fireworks, friends, fun. What more could you want for the New Year?!?