Friday, December 17, 2010

Manatees - Home for the Holidays!

My Native Florida mentor Mark Lane had a great column today that reminded me of something that gave me the giggles. 

He wrote about going to see the manatees in Blue Springs and how Florida is the only place to see such a wintry sight. There are many things about Florida that seem a mystery to newcomers to our state. The manatee is one of those things. And I like to have fun with their ignorance. (Oh, come on, it's not like I'm hurting anyone)

I had a co-worker once who had just moved to Daytona Beach from Tennessee. While he was waiting for his family to move down and join him, he was staying at a hotel on the beach. Each morning he came to work talking about how great it was to start the day with a jog on the beach - beaches being something new to him as a daily part of life.

So one morning he's telling me about his jog and seeing the seagulls and waves and I say . . .

"You haven't seen any manatees on the beach have you?"

What? Um no? Those are like sea cows right?

"Yea, kind of."

I didn't think those things came out of the water? Can they get on the beach?

"Well, you're jogging at about dawn each day, right?"

Um, yea.

"Then you might come across one, so be careful. Manatees come on shore to nest, and they usually go back to the ocean at dawn."

Really? They nest on the beach?

"Yes and they are very territorial, so if you see one, just stay far away from it."

Are they dangerous?

"Well they're pretty big, so I suggest you give the manatee a wide berth."

Hmm, ok. Thanks.

And do you know that he went on believing that manatees lumber onto shore to nest for about a year. Finally I had to tell him the truth when I found out he was teaching this "fact" to his middle-school aged son. It was one thing for me to fool him, but I didn't want his innocent son becoming the brunt of jokes at school. Or failing that science class with a bogus report on manatee nesting season.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bah Humbug and Your Little Dog Too!

Ok, I've had it. I'm really over the dirty looks I'm getting from an elderly couple in my neighborhood. Couldn't they stop being so annoying in light of the holiday season?

I have 3 dogs right now that I walk through our neighborhood and the nearby park twice a day. The reason I have 3 dogs is that we foster a dog every now and then. This big brown dog has been with us for about 7 months now and she may just stay with us. She's old. She's gray. She limps due to arthritis. Her hearing is fading. But I took her in because I thought she deserved to spend her last few years of life being cared for instead of neglected. I simply can't understand why anyone would dump their dog at the shelter just because she's old. But it happens.

About 3 months ago I started getting dirty looks from a couple a few blocks away while I was walking my pack. This couple has a little white pomeranian. That they push around in a baby buggy. Really.

Yes, my dogs are kinda big. Maybe they look a little scary to someone who has a fru-fru dust mop for a dog. They like to wander and sniff. If they make a deposit in anyone's yard I pick up after it. They sometimes pee on mailboxes (at the bottom, not like in their actual mailbox). They're not aggressive. They are friendly.

Today I was walking only one dog and he stopped to pee on the aforementioned elderly couple's mailbox base. The old guy comes charging down his driveway all red in the face. I simply say hello and my dog and I keep walking. A few steps away I come across his wife pushing her dog in the stroller. She gives me a dirty look and crosses over to the other side of the street.

Maybe they think 3 dogs is too many. Maybe they are just prejudice against big dogs. Maybe they don't like the way I look.  Maybe they don't like that my dog pees on the mailbox bases, on trees, and sniffs around the edge of people's yards, which their dog would do, too, if they ever let it out of that whacked out baby buggy.

I'm going to try to ignore it. But they're starting to piss me off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I've Learned from Thanksgiving

Since becoming an independent adult and a mom, I've been responsible for cooking several Thanksgiving dinners for my family. This responsibility has taught me many things about myself and about life in general. Here goes:

I am incapable of cooking rolls or bread of any kind. Not that I ever really try to cook bread or biscuits from scratch. I usually get frozen yeast rolls or the Pillsbury canned biscuits. No matter, I burn them every single time without fail. Needless to say, I no longer put bread or rolls on my menu for Thanksgiving (or any other meal frankly).

Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are two different things. Really, I have a strangely sweet and kinda soupy pan of homemade macaroni and cheese to prove this. 

Turkeys scare me! The first time I ever cooked a turkey on my own was when I was in college. My workplace gave all their employees frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. I brought it back to my little apartment and called Mom to ask how to cook a turkey. That's when I learned what that little red plastic thingy is in the Turkey (pop-up thermometer) and that your cook time is based on time per pound. Even with this expert advice, my first turkey-cooking experiment resulted in a turkey so overcooked and dry it separated from the bone and was more like turkey-jerky.

The next time I tried to cook a turkey was a couple of years ago (yes it was almost 20 years before I attempted to cook the big bird again). Since thawing a big frozen turkey seems like a salmonella outbreak waiting to happen in my opinion, I purchased a fresh, free-range turkey from the local butcher. Man do those things cook MUCH faster than previously frozen turkeys! My turkey was cooked and ready hours before anything else.

Don't ask my mom to bring the cranberry sauce. From the earliest Thanksgiving I can remember to modern time, my mother purchased canned cranberry sauce to serve for our holiday meal. And she forgets to serve it nearly every time. Usually we find it in the cabinet the next day when we are eating Thanksgiving leftovers, so it eventually winds up on plate with (leftover) turkey and dressing.

Hope you benefit from my "lessons learned." Feel free to share some of the lessons you've learned at Thanksgiving. It might just save a turkey or a pan of dressing for someone . . .

Monday, November 15, 2010

Opposites Attract

My husband and I are opposites in many, many ways but somehow we've managed to make our marriage work. This means we've each had to embrace the interests of the other person even if it goes against our nature. Case in point.

1. We give each other time to do the things we like to do.
Beloved got up early Saturday morning to take part in a motorcycle ride with his American Legion post. While he was riding, I was happily shopping at the mall.

2. We come together just as often to do the things one or the other likes to do.
After his ride Saturday, Beloved joined me at the Halifax Humane Society fundraiser. It wasn't all just crazy dog lady stuff though, it was a chili cookoff. So he got to eat chili and drink beer and I got to snap a photo of a weiner dog with a mohawk.

After that I asked Beloved to attend a showing at our area Film Festival this weekend. Foreign films and Beloved are not exactly like peas and carrots. But he agreed to go see The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest with me. Having read all the Steig Larsson books in this trilogy, I knew I had an unfair advantage, but he was trying to be a good sport. Luckily for him, the theater oversold the tickets and I had to get a raincheck for another showing, which I attended with my girlfriend later that evening. Beloved was off the hook and was not too subtle in showing his relief.

Finally on Sunday, I agreed to go to a local establishment (re: Biker Bar) to hear one of Beloved's favorite local bands play. I only go to this particular bar with Beloved because the people watching is priceless. It's the kind of place ugly women and men with no teeth go to dance.  Here's a photo of the band, Big Engine, playing while a "fan" from the audience dances in the "cage." And no, that is not me up there.

So to recap: I enjoyed shopping, Beloved enjoyed riding and we joined each other for furry fundraising, foreign films and a biker bar concert.

Life takes compromise.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zombie Loving Household

Around Casa Native Mom, we're all zombie fans. So we're luvin' this new series on AMC Sundays at 10 p.m., The Walking Dead. Warning: graphic zombie violence and lots of shuffling, moaning uglies.

Zombie mania was unavoidable when raising two stepsons. Luckily, thanks to her older brothers, MiniMe was introduced to all the zombie action at a very early age, so it was like an inoculation for scary movies. I guess when you grow up with zombies, that's just your "normal."

I remember the good old days when zombie movies were in black and white and the walking dead moved slower than molasses. Now they're likely to spring up into your face at lightening speed  in all their techno-color, HD, digital special effects madness making a super gross spectacle of themselves.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Love You More

Yesterday I asked Favorite Middle Stepson to go to the feed store to get a bag of dog food. With 3 dogs now living in my house, we go through a lot of kibble. I've found the prices best at the feed store.

"Remember to write down the brand and type of dog food so you get the same thing," I asked him. Not that I buy a super special brand or anything, but switching foods makes the dogs sick.

"Right," he says taking out a pencil and paper. "Ultra Premium I-Love-My-Dogs-More-Than-My-Kids Blend. Got it."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wish Book Memories

I have officially started my Christmas shopping. Shopping online is great, but what I really long for is the days of the Sears Roebuck Christmas Wish Book. I eagerly awaited the arrival of that 4 pound catalog each year. I'd spend hours pouring over the toy section circling the things I liked and wanted for Christmas.

I did a little research and found out that the first Sears Roebuck general merchandise catalog was distributed in 1894 and the first Christmas Wish Book was published in 1933. The company stopped publishing their general catalog in 1993, but did begin publishing the popular Christmas Wish Book again in 1997.

Some of the items for sale in the first Christmas Wish Book were a Mickey Mouse watch, Lionel electric trains and live signing canaries. The Wish Book of my youth had more than 600 pages with a little over half featuring toys and the rest featuring clothing, tools and gifts for adults.

Of course the Wish Book has morphed for the digital and social media age. You can view the Wish Book online, there is a Wish Book app and if you visit the Sears Facebook page you can post a wish through the end of November to win prizes from Sears.

So while this iconic American Christmas staple is not the same Big Book from my childhood, we haven't lost it altogether.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildlife Weekend

Beloved and I came across some interesting wildlife this weekend. What makes it interesting is that we stumbled across these creatures not by taking a hike but just going about our usual weekend activities.

During a bike ride on Saturday, we crossed over a small bridge and spotted a manatee below us. It was feeding in the shallows and we watched it for about 20 minutes or so. On a motorcycle ride on Sunday I spotted a rather large bald eagle.

Isn't living in Florida great!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Biketoberfest

Today is the first day of Biketoberfest here in the greater Daytona Beach area. For the last few months, I've been working as the official Biketoberfest blogger for the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. It's been a lot of fun. But this weekend, I'll be out just enjoying myself with Beloved, Charming Cousin and the Luvely Lynne.

I have a little game I play to further amuse myself during bike events here. I count how many times I hear Sweet Home Alabama and Mustang Sally. I usually lose count. I think that every band that plays at a bike event has to include those two songs in their playlist . . . .at least once an hour.

This year, I've come up with a new game in which I'm trying to find license plates from all 50 states. Today I came upon Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Ohio. When I saw the Missouri tags today, I had to ask the folks if they rode here or trailered. Of course they trailered but they said this was their 10th time to visit Daytona for a bike event. Gotta love loyal visitors.

Speaking of meeting interesting folks, I got to talk to my favorite bike event food vendors this week. Usually they are too busy to talk but I caught them early in the week. They sell steak tips from the Iron Horse Saloon. It's a family run operation with the father and his 6 daughters whose names all start with the letter A.

I guess they're the "A Team" (groan!). I asked how many pounds of food they serve this week and here's what they told me: 5,000 lbs of sirloin tip, 600 lbs of potatoes and 250 lbs of mushrooms. Looks like I'm not their only foodie fan.

Oh, and since it is October, a lot of people wear costumes to Biketoberfest.

Here's a few more sights from around town this week. Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Winnie the Pooh and Push Up Bras, Too!

Mom, what's a push up bra?

This is the question MiniMe asked me a few weekends ago as we stood in line for a cold drink at one of our favorite theme parks. As annual passholders, we can jump in and out of Walt Disney World parks on a whim. This particular weekend we were visiting Epcot with my favorite personal Disney Tour Guide and his family.

While it was just MiniMe and I, she took the opportunity to explore the answer to the great push up bra mystery. After I explained the lingerie concept (or torture device concept, you decide), I was then asked to explain all manner of bras . . .underwire, sports bra, etc.

These days, with MiniMe firmly in Tween years, she swings from wanting to be a teenager to wanting to be a little girl with whiplash inducing regularity. One minute she's playing with Barbies, the next minute she's asking for her own Facebook account. Yes to Barbies, no to Facebook.

So I wasn't really surprised by the random undergarment question. But what did surprise me was when a few minutes later she asked me to stand in line with her so she could get her picture taken with Pooh and Tigger. How could I say no?

She gave the cuddly characters a big hug and smiled for the camera.

From Push Up Bras to Winnie the Pooh in under 30 minutes!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Building Character One Box of Cookies at a Time

For me it was the cute uniform. For MiniMe it was the cookies.  As a child I joined the Girl Scouts because I coveted the starched brown jumper with the jaunty matching beanie. I could picture myself in that uniform with bright colored patches scattered across the sash.  I joined the Brownies in the third grade, and while my time as a Girl Scout was brief, it made a positive and lasting impression.

My daughter fell in love with the idea of joining the Girl Scouts the first time she encountered a Girl Scout cookie sales booth outside our local Blockbuster Video store. It wasn’t that she wanted the cookies as much as she loved the idea of selling the cookies.  A natural born marketing whiz, she was captivated by the idea of having her own retail operation as an elementary school kid.

So I returned to the Girl Scouts, this time as a volunteer Scout leader when MiniMe was in the second grade. She patiently made it through the weekly troop meetings, the arts and crafts projects and the camping trips. Finally, it was time to sell the cookies!

This was the moment she’d been waiting for all year.  She happily visited all the neighbors taking orders. She recruited her grandmothers, aunts and dad to her sales force.  When pre-orders were tallied, she was a top seller in her troop. But MiniMe was just getting started. She eagerly signed up for several of our troop’s on-site sales booths. The other girls quickly realized they could hang back because MiniMe would happily do all the work.  Her secret weapon?

“I just use my cute face, Mom!”

We all know that Girl Scout cookies practically sell themselves. But to be honest, who’s going to turn down a cute little girl in a Scout uniform? The only question - do you want Thin Mints or Peanut Butter Patties?
Needless to say our troop sold a lot of cookies, which gave the girls the resources to have a well-rounded Scout experience.

Whether or not you like cookies or camping, the Scouts are a great organization for your son or daughter.  This point was driven home recently when I taught a public speaking class at a local college. The students were assigned to give a short speech of introduction. As each one took their turn, I was surprised by how many of these young men and women mentioned that Scouting had shaped or informed their lives.

So I guess while MiniMe thought she was simply building her sales leads, what she was really building was character, values and a lifetime of memories. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just another week in Paradise

Here we go again. Another week in which some of the most bizarre, unfortunate and truly ridiculous national news is generated by goings on in the Sunshine State.

Last week, coverage of Hurricane Earl as it passed by the Florida coastline was overshadowed in the media by the unprecedented number of shark bites recorded along Florida's east coast. Dozens of shark bites were reported from Miami to St. Augustine, which of course sent off a media frenzy that would make a feeding frenzy look mild. Don't know what the big deal was, no one actually got eaten for god's sake.

Then we've got the Florida "Mystery Monkey" whose antics have gone viral and stormed into national media headlines.

Now there's the Gainesville-based "pastor" who's making headlines over a book burning he's promoting. When I first heard about this ego maniacal "man of god" I thought to myself, "Please don't let him live in Florida! Anyplace, but Florida!" As we watched the TV news, Beloved just looked at me and smiled and said "It's your state, honey!"

"No wonder people outside Florida thinks the state is filled with crazy, stupid people and overrun by animals gone wild" I replied. "When the truth is Florida's only half full of people like that. The rest of us are just living peacefully and trying to catch our monkeys."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ok, So I'm Not a Morning Person

I'm teaching a few classes at local colleges as an adjunct instructor this semester. One of my classes is scheduled Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. Since I've been working from my home office for 6 years, it's been a long time since I had to get up and get ready for work early in the morning like normal people do. So this morning, I was feeling very proud of myself for getting out the door on time, dressed, make-up and class materials organized and in tow. Or so I thought.

About halfway to the school, I reached to adjust my seat belt and realized . . .I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PUT ON MY BRA!!!!!!

Panic ensued! How could I have forgotten half my underwear?!? So much for "dressing professionally" this morning.

Now I know you think I'm making this up. Believe me, I wish I were. Lucky for me, the dress I was wearing had a built in liner and a crazy, complicated print pattern that I talked myself into believing would "hide" my undergarment faux pas.  Since several young male students in my class actually fell asleep this morning, I guess it was hardly noticeable. Still, I'm worried that more than one student left my class this morning thinking "Jeez! How did I end up in the class taught by the skeezy white trash ho bag?"

Mom always said I should lay my clothes out the night before . . . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maybe I should be careful what I watch on TV

I'm a big fan of Law & Order: SVU. Mostly because of that sexy Chris Meloni and the always entertaining Ice-T (remember when he was just a renegade rapper?). I've seen just about every episode. Last night I was watching the show on my TV in the kitchen while I made dinner. MiniMe was chatting with me and watching it too. Which, considering the nature of the show (sex crimes) has led to many delicate discussions over the years.

Ok, here's where all the really good parents out there are horrified, right? How can I let my daughter watch a show about solving sex crimes?!?  Well, I'm a slacker mom and I don't believe in sheltering her from the big bad world. Plus, not letting her watch it would mean I couldn't watch it. And, well, um. Anyway, back to my story.

One of the characters on the show last night was a prostitute. MiniMe says "That would have to be the worst job to have. I would never want that job."

What job, I ask. Being a police detective?

"No, being a hooker! That's a terrible job because you have to get in cars with strange people."

(And that's not all I think to myself). So I say, "Yes, well I don't think anyone grows up and aspires to be a hooker. It's not the kind of job most people pursue willingly."

I think it's really cute how she referred to being a prostitute as a 'job.' Like it's in the same league as being a school teacher or an electrician or a nurse or something. Guess I never thought about prostitution as a vocation. I mean it's "doing a job" but not a career. Are you with me on this?

Made me think about all those reality-type shows based on people's jobs. Deadliest Catch. Ice Road Truckers. Animal Cops.  Hmmm, maybe it could be featured on that show Dirty Jobs or one of those ridiculous Real Housewives shows.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biker Blogger

I got my first paying gig as a blogger this month. For the next 2 months, I'll be blogging for as their  local rider expert. The goal is to promote the October Biketoberfest event in Daytona Beach, but also to call attention to the area as the perfect year-round vacation destination for motorcycle enthusiasts.

I'm interested in turning this 2 month blogging contract into more of an annual contract. Our area is uniquely situated to attract motorcycle riders both in state and out-of-state. And most riders spend money when they travel. But for now, I'm just having fun being a "professional blogger."

I've been riding along with my husband for more than 8 years and got my own motorcycle 3 years ago. So I bring a little insight into what riders like and what they look for when they travel. And we do travel on the motorcycle. Last October we traveled to Tennessee on the motorcycle to see the leaves change. 11 hours one way. Boy was my butt tired!

Anyway, check it out if you get a chance.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Middle School Blues

Hey Everyone! It's MiniMe. Can we talk?

My mom (Native Mom) is soooo annoying! She made me do my homework all night BEFORE I could have dessert. And even though my math teacher is really mean, my mom says she "doesn't want to hear anything about the teacher, this is about doing your homework!" I mean, c'mon!

Tonight she dug around in my backpack and got all wigged out because she found some fliers that my teachers had sent home about their classroom and what we're learning and "expectations," blah, blah, blah! And apparently (big sigh!) me and mom were supposed to sign some of these and send them back, like, last Friday? Mom got mad cause I didn't give them to her and send them back in on time. I said "Chill!" but I said it really soft so I don't think Mom heard me.

I heard my Mom telling her friends that middle school is supposed to be a hard adjustment. Must be true, because my Mom is having a really hard time adjusting. All of a sudden, she's all over my case and even took my TV out of my room until "I can prove that I can handle my homework and keep up with my grades." (Big eye roll). Whatever!

Now she wants to start driving me to school instead of letting me ride the bus with my friends so I can get there early and go to "morning math tutoring." I told Mom that it wasn't tutoring in the morning, but a time for kids to come and finish homework. Only losers go to morning tutoring, and besides, that is the ONLY time I get to hang out with all my friends is before school.

I'm not sure I'm going to survive Mom's middle school transition.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Free tickets!

Don't forget to sign up to win 4 free passes to the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach. Winner will be drawn at random on August 31! Send your request for entry to me at

Follow Friday

I've become a Twitter geek, and if you're a Tweep as well,  you know about Follow Friday, or as us Tweeps call it #FF.  This gives Tweeps a chance to give a shout out to other Twitter users they like by suggesting that you follow them. And on, and on, the cycle continues.

So I thought I'd give Follow Friday a try here at my blog. I'm going to recommend blogs that I like on Fridays and encourage all you NativeMom friends to give them a visit.  Here goes.

Today the Native Mom blog is following Tootie at Sanibel Toot's Lazy Days,  Fresh From Florida, the Disney Food Blog, and A Corgi in Southern California.

Tell 'em Native Mom sent ya, and join me in the Follow Friday Blog movement!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School

This was MiniMe on her first day of 1st Grade.  
Today she started the first day of Middle School. 

Still cute, but now she can make her own breakfast, dress herself and walk to and from the bus stop without me. Oh yeah, she can also roll her eyes at me and tune me out while texting. 

Growing up is soooooo much fun!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Annie Jr: A Test for Mom

I was so proud of MiniMe as she performed in her first "broadway-like" production this summer. The drama camp she attended put on a production of Annie at the end of July. This hour and a half long production with music, singing, dancing, props, costumes, the works, was all put together by the students and their instructors in only 3 weeks. They did a fantastic job!

I faced one of my greatest challenges to date as a mom at the start of drama camp. MiniMe had high hopes of landing a certain part during auditions. When I picked her up the day the parts were announced, I knew it had not gone her way. She was scowling and didn't say hardly one word on the drive home. When I asked if she wanted to talk about it she said "Not right now." The only thing I got out of her was that she didn't get the part she wanted.

When we got home she took off to her room upstairs and closed the door. I waited about 10 minutes then quietly knocked on her door and asked if she wanted to talk. "No, not right now" was the answer again.

What to do? I knew big disappointment was looming and had not a clue on how to help my child deal with it appropriately. I actually Googled "helping your child deal with disappointment" and read everything I could find.

About a half hour later she walked into my office and fell into big heaving sobs in my lap, her little shoulders shaking. She said she got assigned the part of an "extra orphan" and that she'd looked through the script and didn't even see the name of her orphan in the script anywhere. I suspected they had more kids than parts and so had created some roles for kids.

She said that worst of all, they had called all the kids together and announced everyone's parts at the end of the day and she had been embarrassed in front of her friends when they got better parts than her.

Embarrassment. Disappointment. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. All emotions I had to help my little one deal with at the same time. We talked and talked. I listened. Didn't try to tell her what to do, just acknowledged her feelings. As hard as it was, I was proud of the fact that not once did she say she wanted to quit the play. She was hurt but had decided to soldier on.

In the days and weeks that followed I saw so much positive attitude in my child. Every few days she came home and announced that she'd been given another small background role and by the time the play was upon us, she was in nearly every scene and had 3 costume changes. She enjoyed every minute of it and did a fantastic job, even if she didn't have a solo or speaking part.

She had her own cheering section at the performance. Mom, Dad, Grandmas, a great-grandma, and several friends. Her performance was great and I guess my performance as a mom wasn't so bad either.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Glamorous Life

A few of my regular readers may have noticed I have not been blogging much lately (or maybe you haven't). Anyway, I thought I'd let you all know that what has been keeping me from my regular blog reports is my oh-so-glamorous life. Here's what I've been up to.

Spent last night holding hair while a kid threw up and threw up and threw up.

Just got a job as an adjunct teacher at a local community college - which means I have exactly 2 weeks to get all my class materials ready.

Finally caved and let MiniMe shave her legs for the first time. I had promised "once you're in middle school" and she called me on it since she starts middle school on Monday. Who knew it could take 40 minutes to shave 2 little legs and that I'd have to be there every minute to experience it with her?

Achieved my housekeeping goal for the summer and cleaned out several closets and the kitchen pantry of long-expired canned goods and seasonings. Unopened bottle of salad dressing that expired in 2006? Check! Half empty bottle of children's liquid Motrin in the medicine cabinet that expired in 2004? Check!

Took all my dogs to get current on vaccinations and checked for heartworms. No worms, lucky me!

But mostly, I spent the summer at home reading, cooking, enjoying the pool, etc. Without funds for a lavish summer vacation, what's a glamorous girl to do? But with school back in session next week, I'll be returning to the blogosphere on a more regular basis.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Slip 'N Slide Summer

We broke out the Slip 'N Slides yesterday. Wham-O introduced the Slip 'N Slide in 1961. My sister and I spent hours on ours in the front yard every summer. Despite the fact that we have a pool, our kids had a blast on this classic summer toy this weekend.

Wham-O has made some of the most simple, but most enjoyable toys of our generation and beyond. The Frisbee. The Hula Hoop. The Hacky Sack.

I highly encourage all you mom and dads out there to introduce your child to the Slip 'N Slide. Let the fun begin!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

We don't need no stinkin' summer camp!

Today is the last day of summer camp for MiniMe. It is a theater/drama camp and she has loved every single minute of it. Perfect for my little Drama Queen. Over the years, I've signed MiniMe up for at least a dozen different little summer camps. There was dance camp. Art camp. Photography camp. Art camp again. Dance camp again. Swimming & recreation.

My local paper has run at least one story each week about what kids are doing this summer at camp. Today's story was about a Leadership Camp at the YMCA. Plenty of educational, enriching and fun things for kids to do around here.

Which got me thinking ... how come I didn't get to do a fun summer camp growing up? So I asked Mimi.

"We didn't need summer camps for kids back then. Being home was summer camp."

That's me at "summer camp at home" in 1980. At least MiniMe has actual human friends at summer camp.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

I have a problem with a co-worker. I know people write to you often asking for advice about co-workers who don't pull their weight, spend too much time on the internet or share all their personal problems with everyone. My problem is a little more serious.

My co-worker sleeps on the job. Every day. And if that wasn't bad enough, she snores. Which is really distracting to me when I'm actually trying to get my work done.

Please don't advise me to talk to my boss about my co-worker slacking off. That won't help. Because I am the boss.

I know this is not appropriate employee behavior, but I keep her on the payroll because she works for cheap and is very cute.

Help! Signed Pushover.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What Was I Thinking

 I'm creating a new blog post category entitled "What Was I Thinking." There have just been way too many times recently where I found myself mumbling this. My last "What Was I Thinking" post was about scheduling my daughter's birthday pool party at 2 p.m. on a Saturday in June . . .at exactly the time when we get our afternoon thundershowers.

This weekend's "What Was I Thinking" moment was a little more serious. Because the Florida State Parks were having a free entry day on Saturday, Beloved and I decided to head to our local park with the canoe and paddle around a bit. Now I have not been in a canoe in about 2 years, maybe longer. But I thought a couple of hours wouldn't kill me. (Suwanee Refugee, stop reading now! I'm too embarrassed to admit this to a paddler like yourself)

The young park ranger gave us a hand-drawn map of the waterway and pointed out a "3 mile loop" she suggested we try. Three miles, I thought, I could do that. That's about 2 hours of paddling. Sounded perfect.

So off we went armed with towels, lots of sunscreen and a large jug of water. We launched the canoe just before noon. At 3 p.m. I thought I might die without ever making it back to civilization. Hungry, hot, exhausted, sore and more than a little concerned for my physical safety, we finally got back to the boat ramp at 4 p.m.

How did this happen you ask? Approaching  the 2 hour point in what was supposed to be our "3-mile" canoe trip we realized there had been a mistake. We kept checking the map and thought we were farther along than we turned out to be. After 2 hours, and without being completely sure of our location, the choice was to turn back or complete our route and hope for the best.  I knew turning back meant another 2 hours in the canoe. We pressed on and hoped for the best.

By that point I had begun to sing the Gilligan's Island theme song over and over in my head "A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour . . ." And because I was starving (I had a smoothie for breakfast), I busied myself going over ingredients in recipes I was planning to make this week. Shrimp, onion, orzo, don't forget the lemon, olive oil, vinegar - what kind of vinegar? 

I wish I could say it all worked out fine because we got to enjoy the natural flora and fauna of the waterway. Not! The only wildlife we saw were a few birds and a lot of fiddler crabs (which I began to imagine were just waiting to pick the meat from my bones).

It will be a very long time before I agree to go anywhere near a canoe again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

James the Watermellon Man

No that title is not a typo. It is the unique marketing strategy of James the Watermellon Man. Yesterday while driving through DeLand, I saw this sign on the side of the road. I had to stop and check it out, I mean wouldn't you?

I found a small house with a big shady yard. Lots of cars and children's toys scattered around. Several men sitting in lawn chairs under a tree. I approached the yard and yelled out "How much are the watermelons?"

"You'll have to ask him" came the reply from one of the shade sitters as he pointed toward the house. There was a screened in porch and with the sun in my eyes, I couldn't see anyone inside. Then I heard the voice of James the Watermellon Man.

"Come on up. Try a piece. Ice cold watermelon!"

On the sign near the porch it listed the price of the watermelons as 150 dollars. Oops, I think he meant $1.50.


"How many you want? You can get two for $2.50. I've even got them ice cold" said an older Black gentleman dressed in a bright colored shirt who emerged from the porch. "I'm James. James the Watermellon Man."

I let James know I only wanted one and I didn't need a cold melon as I was traveling all day. James pointed to the pile of watermelons and said I could take my pick. Then he asked "What you taking pictures for?"

Truth is I thought the misspelled signs everywhere were charming, but I didn't want to tell him his spelling lacked something to be desired. So I told him that I had a website and I wanted to let my friends know where to get their watermelons, so that's why I was taking pictures. Which as you can see is the truth.

I picked my melon, gave James $2 and told him to keep the change.

"Let your friends know to stop by and get their watermelon from James!" he shouted as I left. I assured him I would.

You can find James, a great entrepreneur I think, at the corner of South Adelle Avenue and Beresford Avenue in DeLand. I don't know the hours of his operation, but they seem flexible. And yes, it was a great melon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tales of a Tree Holder

My sister and I spent a lot of time holding the tree in our front yard growing up. No, we weren't early adopters of the green movement, we were being punished. 

I'm sure it is not unique to Southern parents to come up with unusual ways to dole out punishment to their kids, it just seems that way to me. My dad had one of the weirdest. 

My sister and I had to hold the tree in the front yard. 

How is this a punishment you might wonder? Well, we usually ended up on tree duty because we were bickering with each other. So to have to stand face to face with a sibling you're mad at and are being punished with is absolutely no fun. Dad had a few rules. 

1. No talking to each other.
2. You had to stand up the entire time, no sitting in the tree or sitting down at the base of the tree.
3. Both hands had to be on the tree at all times.
4. We couldn't come back inside until he said so. 

There's a humiliation factor involved in this punishment. Many a time our neighborhood friends would ride by on their bicycles and ask "What ya doin?"

"Holding the tree."


"Because we're in trouble. And we're not allowed to talk so you'll have to go away."

Much snickering and taunting would then be directed at my sibling and me. 

Once my dad forgot about us and we stood out in the front yard holding the tree until after dark. Now that I'm a parent, I can understand how something like this could happen. Enjoying the peace and quiet in a house where there are no children is not something you want to end. 

How did Dad come up with such a strange disciplinary tactic? From what I understand, he had to hold a table leg or the railroad track that ran past his house as punishment growing up. This may or may not be true, but that's what we've been told. Makes today's time out seem pretty lame. 

Editor's Disclaimer: The photo in this post is of my niece "holding the tree" in her front yard. No actual babies were harmed or punished. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cow Appreciation Day

Today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. It took some convincing, but I finally got MiniMe and Favorite Stepdaughter to agree to dress up like cows with me and go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Free lunch to people dressed like cows dontcha know!

My dog Radley even got in on the act because Dogs Love Chikin Too! We made a lot of people smile and enjoyed our free lunch (Radley ate my chicken nuggets!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drama Camp

MiniMe goes to Drama Camp next week. Kind of ironic since she could probably teach the class. She's always been a bit of a drama queen. I blame it on my sister who decided it would be a good idea to dress MiniMe up and teach her to do the "runway walk" as soon as the child could walk on her own. Of course with an Aunt who has more shoes than Imelda Marcus and a grandmother who is the owner of a hair salon, what chance did the girl have but to be a drama queen? (Notice how I take no personal responsibility?)

Her dad asked me today for information on the camp since I'm the one who signed her up. When I told him she'd have to wear leotard, tights and jazz shoes, he was quite flummoxed. Not to worry, I said, I'll take care of getting all the dance gear.

"Good because I wouldn't have the slightest idea where to get jazz shoes!" he replied.

Easy, I said, it's the same store that sells Liza Minelli wigs and Neil Diamond t-shirts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Boiled PNuts

"MiniMe is coming for the weekend. So you've got to boil some pnuts."

When I walked into Mimi & Pappaw's house on Sunday to drop off MiniMe for her fourth of July sleepover with the grandparents, the scent of boiled pnuts greeted me. With pnuts in season, and since Pappaw loves boiled pnuts, they had made a great big pot full. Pappaw introduced MiniMe to boiled pnuts not long after she could feed herself. I think he wanted to make sure he had another member of the family hooked on the juicy little morsels so that he'd have a partner to help him convince my mom to make them all summer long.

Mimi makes the pnuts. Pappaw and MiniMe eat them. Out of a big green Tupperware bowl.

Don't ask me why, but every time my mom serves up boiled pnuts, she puts them in the same green Tupperware bowl. It goes beyond tradition to some sort of weird OCD-like thing. So MiniMe learned that when the green bowl comes out, boiled pnuts are served.

Mom told me this weekend that when MiniMe was just a few years old, she opened the refrigerator, grabbed the green bowl out and brought it to her.

"MiMi, I want some pnuts" she said holding up the bowl. Which contained a head of lettuce at the time.

When my mom told her there were no pnuts and that the bowl had lettuce in it, MiniMe replied "But I don't eat lettuce!"

And to this day I still can't get her to eat lettuce. But she hoovered down a pound of boiled pnuts this weekend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Views from the 4th of July

With the 4th of July this weekend, I've been thinking about all the places I've seen fireworks in my life. I once saw a fireworks display while at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but that doesn't really count since it was a New Year's fireworks display and not 4th of July.

I spent many years watching the fireworks from the grounds around the fort in St. Augustine. I highly recommend it.

But my most vivid memory of the fireworks on the 4th was when I was in my early teens. My best friend and I had spent the evening roaming around St. Augustine on our bikes. This was before we could drive and we rode those beach cruisers everywhere. Our intention was to ride downtown and watch the fireworks from the bayfront. It was extremely crowded everywhere along the bay as you might expect. And when the fireworks went off, we found ourselves riding across the Bridge of Lions. People had lined the sidewalks up and down the bridge, so we had to ride in the driving lane. With fireworks going off, people everywhere and cars in front and behind us in the dark, we squealed, our hearts pounding and I was just sure that when my tires hit the grate that makes up the drawbridge at the top that I'd crash and we'd be roadkill. Somehow we managed to get across without injury, but it was one of those stupid teenage decisions (one of many I must admit).

But it's also one of my fondest memories of the 4th of July.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Remember When?

When you were a child, did your kindergarten class have a graduation? If you have children, you will surely never forget seeing your little one "graduate" for the first time. I'm thinking of you Florida Cracker who just experienced your son's high school graduation.

Easter Seals Volusia Flagler has a charter school serving children of varying abilities pre-k through kindergarten. Here is a slide show of their graduation, it made my day!

Florida's most dangerous jobs

When you think about dangerous jobs, you automatically think about firemen, police officers, and roofers in the summertime heat. But what about environmental consultants? Sounds fairly harmless, right?

Yesterday an environmental consultant was chomped by an 11 foot alligator in Silver Springs, Ocala. I guess a job monitoring the flow of water in a Florida spring is only dangerous if it happens to be inhabited by a humongous alligator. Luckily, it was just a flesh wound (shout out to Monty Python fans!) and the guy was okay. The alligator was caught and euthanized.

Think ticket sales for the glass bottom boat rides at Silver Springs will be through the roof today?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Anna Maria Here We Come

Like a hurricane, only much more fun, the girls and I will be blowing into Anna Maria Island this weekend. It will be our biggest group ever with at least 12 ladies from all over the state of Florida coming together to liven up the island. I'm looking forward to some shelling, seafood, and sauvignon blanc with my sassy sistas! (Yes, I love alliteration!)

Beloved asked what we had planned for our trip. I told him that ,unlike men who fill their vacation schedules with things like hiking, motorcycle rides, fishing etc., the most important thing to us ladies was having time to just relax with the girls. We're really very low maintenance.

Top 5 Things to Do on Girls Trip
5. Eat food that's been prepared by someone else and served to you
4. Enjoy a room with a view
3. Happy Hour all day/night long
2. Laugh and talk
1. Repeat items 2 to 5

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Oil? Beaches are Clear!

While my heart goes out to the beaches along the Gulf that are now seeing oil creep onto their beaches, over here in Daytona Beach we're doing our best to let folks know that they should still come vacation here. Harry Potter's not all that the Sunshine State has to offer this summer.

Take a look at the video from Daytona Beach's Sunsplash Park today.

Fish for Free

Just in time for Father's Day, the state of Florida is letting people fish without a license this weekend - free fishing! This is just another way that that the state is trying to combat the effects of the oil spill and show the world that Florida is still open for business. Enjoy a free, fresh Florida seafood dinner this weekend and spend some quality time with your dad, granddad, step-dad or the man in your life who's been like a father to you.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced that residents and visitors may enjoy a weekend of free fishing in honor of Father’s Day on June 19th and June 20th, 2010. Florida Fish and Wildlife Chairman Rodney Barreto remarked upon Governor Crist’s decision to waive fees and have the free fishing weekend, “Governor Crist’s actions to extend another free fishing weekend will help bring families together to enjoy the outdoors and lend a hand to Florida’s fishing communities, which have been suffering due to mistaken perceptions that fishing is not open because of the BP oil spill.

They just keep growing

My brother-in-law created a great montage of my niece Lily Kate. Below you see her at newborn, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. My how time flies!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who Knew Trucks Could Talk?

My truck called me yesterday. It was quite startling. I was out running errands in my Chevy Avalanche (which I love, best truck ever!) and listening to the radio, when all of a sudden the radio went silent. I heard the sound of the phone ringing and that familiar phrase "Now connecting to OnStar."

Seems it was time (past time actually) to renew my OnStar subscription and since I had not responded to their repeated e-mails or the snail mail they sent me, they waited until I was in my truck and called me up. I know I should have taken care of this when they first sent me the e-mail notifying me my subscription was almost up. But hey, I've been busy and slacking at the same time.

It was bizarre and quite unexpected for OnStar to call me. Kind of "stalkerish" actually. The fact that they knew I was driving my truck and called me is a little spooky. But I guess that's what OnStar does, it keeps track of you while you drive in case of an emergency. Which I appreciate .... but still. Creepy!

As always, the OnStar person was extremely polite. Disney-like politeness. And she even helped save me money on my new subscription. Bonus!

I wonder if they know I'm putting on my make-up while I'm driving and that I cheated on my diet last week at the McDonald's drive thru.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You could be the next Duck Master!

The hospitality and tourism industry in Florida offers a wide variety of career opportunities. I found one I'd never heard of before, but thought it would be fun for the right person.

Duck Master.

That's right, I said Duck Master. The Peabody Hotel and Resort is looking for a Duck Master to manage the 5 mallard ducks that are an attraction in and of themselves at the property. Who wouldn't love to have Duck Master on their business card? The job description is below.

Responsible for handling and maintaining the health, diet, rotation and living quarters for the five mallard ducks and conducting the daily march of The Peabody Ducks before hotel audiences and off-property audiences. Required to take the ducks to schools and give presentations about wildlife, ducks, and the environment. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today was MiniMe's 5th grade graduation. Despite the fact that she acted as if she was embarrassed to see me, I know she really enjoyed having me there. Here is the photo I got of her at the breakfast awards ceremony before she realized I was there.

This is the photo I got after she saw me.

Eyes rolling, arms crossed. I guess I'll see a lot more of that now that she's heading to middle school.

The 5th graders were dismissed after the breakfast so she spent the afternoon at home with me. And she didn't waste time transitioning into full-on middle-school almost-a-teenager mode.

"Mom can I go to the movies on Friday to see Karate Kid?"

I guess so. Who are you going with?

"Well if I go with my friends, would you want to go or would you be OK with dropping us off?"

That depends, how many friends are you going with? 

"Right now just one friend, but I plan to ask a few more friends to go, too."

Who's the one?

You guessed it. The boyfriend. She hadn't been out of elementary school for more than 2 hours before she's asking to go on a movie date with her little boyfriend. But wait, it doesn't stop there.

"So when do you think I'll be able to shave my legs?"

Well, like I've said, when you go to middle school, 6th grade, then if you want to shave your legs you can.

"But I'm going to be in 6th grade in just a few months, and Mom, look at my legs! I really think I need to start shaving."

Just like a single gal, gotta shave before her Friday night date. I figure by the end of the week she'll be asking for the car keys and arguing with me over the time of her curfew.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Keeping it Real: The Oil Spill and Florida Beaches

What's going on with Florida beaches as a result of the oil spill? If you really want to know, ask someone who lives here in Florida.

That's the idea behind Florida's statewide tourism bureau campaign to save our state's tourism economy. 
Visit Florida is encouraging local Floridians and visitors to the state to let the world know that our beaches are open for business. Very few miles of Florida's beaches have been affected by the oil spill, yet hundreds of coastal cities are losing travelers due to the media attention and coverage of the issue. 

Visit Florida is approaching this problem in the most up-front, transparent way I've ever seen something like this covered in a campaign. They're asking local Floridians or people here visiting to share their photos of what is happening on our beaches right now. 

Ok Florida Bloggers, this is right up your alley. Very few miles of Florida's beaches have been affected by the oil spill, yet hundreds of coastal cities are losing travelers due to the media attention and coverage of the issue. I know my blog friends (yes, that means you) are fantastic photographers. Share those great photos and be a part of a real-time, real life social media effort to show the rest of the world what Florida's beaches are really like this summer.

Come on down! Florida needs you!

Alls Well That Ends Well

We survived MiniMe's pool party! Actually, it was a great success. Yes it did rain, but that gave us a chance to get the kids out of the pool long enough for ice cream cake and presents. Learned something new this weekend. Our pool can actually hold 17 kids!

Another positive - the parents all arrived on time to pick up their darling boys and girls. Can't beat that. I spent Sunday on the couch reading and watching movies. Momma was whooped!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How could I make such a rookie mistake?

I think someone should revoke my Florida Native status. I've made a terrible rookie mistake. I scheduled MiniMe's birthday pool party for today beginning at 3 p.m. What was I thinking? Obviously, I wasn't thinking. By 3 p.m. this afternoon thunderstorms will be rolling in and I'll be stuck with 2 dozen 11 and 12 year olds in my house with nothing to do. Shoot me now!!

In my defense, no wait there is no defense for this native stupidity, but to explain my moronic planning skills, I was thinking I needed time on Saturday to get the house cleaned, the dogs walked and fed, the food picked up from the supermarket and the signage placed in the neighborhood leading the way to our house like breadcrumbs.

This day may end up more painful than the 13 hours of labor I went through 11 years ago today.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Alligator CSI

Florida Wildlife Officers used CSI like methods to arrest a dumbass man for alligator poaching in Ft. Lauderdale. Along with the usual crime-solving methods -eye-witness reports, spent shell casings linking the dumbass man from Pompano Beach, blood in his truck - the Wildlife Officers used DNA to determine the blood found in his truck came from an alligator, in fact the same alligator killed illegally at a nearby boat ramp.

The man told wildlife investigators the blood came from a rabbit he killed on a recent hunting trip. With that much blood, that had to be one big-ass rabbit!

Several eyewitnesses reported they saw Mark Montgomery Jr. (here's hoping Sr isn't as much of an idiot), lure the alligator with marshmallows, then shoot it in the head 7 times with a rifle. One eyewitness asked Montgomery "Is that illegal?"  Yea, he replied as he loaded the dead alligator into the bed of his truck. Thankfully, the witnesses called officials and provided his tag number.

Investigators compared the "rabbit blood" with blood taken from the scene. Of course it was a match. This case marks the first time the wildlife commission has utilized DNA for an alligator poaching case. Montgomery was charged with killing the alligator without a permit, without using legal methods,  and with the illegal use of marshmallows.

I'm thinking backwoods idiots like Montgomery never really stand a chance of avoiding conviction with the old tried and trued sleuthing practices our state wildlife officials already had at their disposal. But with DNA testing, these morons are outsmarted on a whole new level. Kind of like shooting redneck fish in a barrel (after filling em up on marshmallows).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cute Corgi - Any Takers?

Cute 5-year-old Welsh Corgi, Free to Good Home.

Good with other dogs and kids, sometimes. Can walk on a leash, but refuses to on a regular basis. Smells bad even after a bath. Burps a lot. Has allergies and severe skin issues requiring frequent and expensive vet visits and medication. Will only eat meals if bowl is placed on a carpeted area. Will only drink water from a blue bowl or from puddles in the street. Has recently gained weight which places him on the portly side. Jumps on all visitors to your home. Loves to eat high heel shoes, but only one from each pair. Innate herding instinct causes him to try to tackle you from behind as you walk. Can come when called, but usually just ignores you.

Will exchange for an incontinent, blind pit bull. Serious inquiries only.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Reading List

I've had a few requests for my suggestions for summer reading. After replying to a few with some of my favorite picks, I decided just to post my recommendations here for everyone at the same time.

Category: New Books

  • Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - a great tale of the strength, loyalty and hilarity of Southern women.
  • Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin - humor makes a perfect summer read. Love her or hate her, just read this funny book.
  • Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern - first a blog, then a book, soon to be a TV sitcom.

Category: Summer Romance

  • Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris - the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series is like Twilight for adults (lots of sex in the steamy bayou)
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - no woman is an island, and when you're stuck on one with a man of the cloth who just happens to be gorgeous, well stuff happens.
  • The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman - Florida is the lightning strike capital of the world, so when two people who've been struck by lightning find each other it's a complicated romance that runs hot and cold.

Category: Summer Travel

  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt - enjoy the great southern city of Savannah in this twisted case of who-dun-it. An oldie but a goodie!
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson - can't afford to travel this summer, then go anywhere with Bill Bryson, the funniest travel writer you'll ever read. You'll enjoy all his books but this is my favorite.

Category: Maybe Something More Serious

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski - now in paperback, believe all the hype. You'll love this story.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - a different perspective on the holocaust and death's role. Believe me, they're gonna make a movie out of this one.
I'll gladly take your recommendations for summer reads. For now, I've downloaded Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie, The Rehearsal by Eleanor Cotton and Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch on my Kindle for the summer months. I'll let you know if I like them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mermaid Returns to the Water for the Last Time

The news today had a lovely article celebrating the life of one of Weeki Wachee's mermaids, Frances Gioe, who died May 15 at the age of 77. Her ashes will be scattered by her family today at Weeki Wachee, returning this remarkable lady to the place where she began a lifelong career as a performer and aquatic dancer.

The year the park opened in 1947,16-year-old Frances Gioe became one of the first Weeki Wachee mermaids. Her talent for aquatic dance led to movie roles in Esther Williams movies and in the TV series Flipper. She performed in Paris for the Moulin Rouge. Retiring in Florida, she created a synchronized swim team for seniors called the Aqua Belles.

Regular Native Mom readers know of my love and devotion to Weeki Wachee. I was thrilled to learn this week that these iconic Florida performers are currently completing a tour of London.
This marks the first time the Weeki Wachee mermaids have appeared outside the United States. These talented ladies are performing this week at the Sea Life London Aquarium. You can see a video of their performance in London here. Notice how the British broadcaster refers to the ladies as Weeki Wacky mermaids.

Whoever thought of sending the mermaids on a world tour is a genius!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anna Maria Island

It is official. The annual Girls Weekend is scheduled for the end of June in Anna Maria Island. Us Florida girls decided to support our Gulf Coast beaches and their tourism efforts during this time of uncertainty after the oil spill. And since our group seems to be much bigger in numbers this year, the Gulf Coast tourism officials should really appreciate the amount of disposable income we'll be delivering.

I've never been to Anna Maria Island. So if any of you have tips, information, etc to share I would be most appreciative. I love to travel and experience places as the locals do. That's why this Florida blogging community is so great, there's one or two of you bound to have a few local secrets to share. You've never steered me wrong.

I know our girls trip will result in plenty of blog fodder. This month I celebrate my third year blogging as Florida Native Mom. Thanks to all of my readers and blog friends for three wonderful years!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things I can't live without

An article in USNews details the 10 things people today say the can't live without (ie coffee, TV, high speed internet access). I found this very timely because my work has really slowed down and I've been looking at the budget figuring what I can cut. Here are some things I considered but just have not been able to cut.

Cell phones. We have a big cell phone bill each month because I have an iPhone and my husband, who has a work cell phone, carries a separate cell phone for personal use. Plus MiniMe just got a cell phone for her birthday. Do we really need these cell phones? The answer is no, we have a phone at the house. But I have not been able to cut the cord (I love my iPhone!).

The grocery bill. I buy a lot of organics, which are more expensive. And the kids all have their favorite snacks. While I've managed to shave off about 20% of the bill for the month just by keeping less staples in the pantry, I have a hard time giving up my organic milk and vegis.

Pet supplies. As you all know, I love my dogs. But now that I have 3, I've had to cut back on pet supplies. I've switched to the generic food from the grocery store instead of the specialty food from the pet supermarket, but I'm still buying rawhide chews and their favorite cookies.

I have successfully cut back on the following in the budget (something to be proud of I think):
Eating out. Movies/entertainment.
Shopping (clothing, make-up, accessories, etc)
Gas (not eating out and shopping cut my gas bill)
Weekend travel and vacations.

So, tell me, what can't you live without? 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bird Eviction

Yesterday, I discovered a bird was building a nest in our garage. Since my favorite middle stepson moved in with us a few months ago, he tends to leave the garage door open all day long. The tiny bird was building a nest in the Christmas tree stand stored on top of a cabinet, far out of reach. I decided not to say anything to the rest of the family, knowing that the kids would be too tempted to climb up and disturb it and that Beloved would get rid of it. I just thought that the little bird had worked so hard and I didn't want to bash its little-bird-housing dreams. With so many people losing homes in the last few years, I had foreclosure empathy for the little bird.

I know I should have tried to evict it immediately. But, I thought, what can it hurt? Maybe a little bird poop scattered around. Some peeps and tweeps now and then. I even thought about getting some bird seed to spread out on the driveway.

I blame all these bird harboring thoughts on not getting enough sleep. Let's face it, I already have 3 dogs, 4 kids, a guinea pig, one of the longest living guppies in existence and a husband (listed in no particular order of my love for all of them). Like I really need another mouth to feed around here.

I found the nest material scattered across the driveway this morning. Looks like Beloved discovered my garage squatter. It made me feel bad, but not as bad as I felt at lunchtime today when I saw the little bird (or its identical bird twin) hopping around my window seal. I think it was trying to say "hey, the garage thing didn't work out, so how about that empty bed upstairs your son isn't using while he's in college."

. . . . early bedtime for me tonight, no matter what.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Surf Girls

Several of my girlfriends have been bitten by the bug. The surfing bug. Only every now and then, the bug bites back. Last year it was Wondertwin who sustained a surfing-related injury that beached her for a little over a month. This weekend it was SandArt who was on the receiving end of a nibble. Four stitches and a knee brace later and she was good to go.

Don't feel sorry for them though. These ladies wear their surf wounds with pride. And they should since paddling those long boards through the challenging surf of Daytona Beach then popping up into a cresting wave driving you toward the beach is not an activity for couch potatoes. So the bumps, scrapes, bruises and stitches are the trade off for buff arms and abs and the chance to spend a day in the ocean alongside the dolphins.

Lest you lady readers out there think surfing would be out of reach for you, there are plenty of opportunities to learn to surf at any age. Surf camps, women-only surf lessons and the like are becoming increasingly more popular and easier to find. If I've scared you off giving surfing a try with the stories of war wounds among my women friends, keep in mind the saying - no pain, no gain!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We had a very pleasant surprise visit from my husband's great aunt earlier this week. She and her boyfriend were in town for a mini-vacation. Since we live near the beach, we often and happily have family & friends make us part of their vacation plans.

But since we had short notice, I let MiniMe know when I picked her up from school that day that I needed her help to get everything ready for our dinner guests. She asked who was coming to dinner.

"Beloved's Great Aunt is in town so she's stopping by for a visit with her boyfriend."

How old is his aunt?

"I don't know. A little older than your Mimi I guess."

And she has a boyfriend!?!?!

"Yes, why is that so weird."

If she's that old, how does she have a boyfriend?

"Her husband passed away a few years ago. So this gentleman is her boyfriend."

How old is he?

"I don't know, I haven't met him yet."

Is he 20 or is he older than that?

MiniMe! Of course he's older than that. She's not dating a 20-year-old. Why would you think that.

"Whew! Because boyfriends are guys in their 20s and 30s. I didn't know someone old could be called a boyfriend."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Florida Facts from MiniMe

MiniMe informed me today that her class is taking a field trip to Silver Springs. I was surprised to hear they were going on a field trip that is so far away from school, but also very pleased that they were visiting one of Florida's first "theme parks."

I said to MiniMe, "you know Silver Springs was one of the very first theme park attractions to open in Florida."

I know, she replies. I've been on the glass bottom boats and we get to go on the boats again for our field trip. And they filmed the movie Creature from the Black Lagoon there.

"That's right," I answered surprised.

They also filmed some of the movie Hoot there. Remember, I read the book.

"I did not know that," I answered.

So proud I am of my little Florida girl for knowing so much about one of our state's treasures. You can learn more about the history of this little gem here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recyled Science Project

I am very proud of MiniMe for the work she (we) did on her science project. Her project demonstrated how different materials can be recycled into writing paper. We spent weeks making paper, charting our progress and observations. And since she's as creative as her mom, the display board was awesome. MiniMe had the only project in the entire 5th grade at her school that addressed recycling - and this during the month of April when we celebrate Earth Day.

We both had high expectations that her project would be among the top 7 in her school to advance to regionals. So when she called to give me the news, we were both very disappointed.

"Mom, they had the judging for the science projects. Mine didn't make it into the top 7."

What?!? But you were the only one with a recycling project.

"I know! Jennifer's project was a winner. So was Carly's"

But your project was better than both of theirs. Must have been that Russian judge.



Friday, April 30, 2010

You know your house is a home if

My good friend Sarah invited Wondertwin and I to her home for what we lovingly refer to as a "porch sit" yesterday. Sarah spent several years building this home, which actually has a name - CenterPeace. In fact the name is carved into the mantle over the fireplace in her living room.

Now I'm thinking that if your house has an official name, it's not a house it is a home. And what a beautiful home it is. Though not nearly as beautiful as the woman who owns it.

About twice a year our little group of ladies enjoys a porch sit. The view of the Intracoastal river can't be beat. Wine and appetizers. But most of all great conversation and plenty of laughs. Lots of love all around!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MiniMe Debuts Online

I started a blog detailing my journey along with my daughter through braces. Yep, we're going through braces at the same time. So this week, MiniMe posted her first blog entry on the blog. She was very excited about her first blog post and spent at least a half hour working on it. She sat at the kitchen counter with my laptop last night while I was cooking asking me how to spell words, etc.

Check her out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Permission Slips

MiniMe rummaged through her book bag in frustration this morning looking for a permission slip for me to sign to allow her to watch a PG-13 movie at school. When she couldn't find it she started freaking out because she said it had to be signed today or else she would not be able to watch the movie in question - Nim's Island.

No worries. I got out a sheet of paper and drafted my own permission slip.

Dear Mrs. Smith,

Please allow my daughter MiniMe to watch any PG-13 movie on any date at any time at her elementary school. 

Signed and dated NativeMom

PS. Let's face it, after watching all those zombie movies with her teenage brothers, there's nothing Jodi Foster or Abigail Breslin could possibly do on Nim's Island that would be any more shocking or disturbing. 

Native Tan

"Where are you from?"

That's the question I was asked by a man sitting next to me at the bar in a local restaurant my friends and I visited recently. I guess when you live in Florida, visitors naturally assume that everyone else they encounter is also there on vacation.

"I live here. I'm local," I answered.

"Oh, you live here? I guess I thought you were visiting since you're so white."

He meant my skin tone not my mannerisms or belief system I assumed.

I was not offended by his observation. After all, I'm a green eyed blonde. Not all Florida natives look like, er, natives. 

So I answer, "That's because when you grow up in Florida, you become aware of a little thing we call skin cancer. Most everyone I know that grew up here or has lived here a long time has had something cut or burned off them at some point. The dermatology industry is very healthy here - recession proof in fact."

Then I ask "Where are you from?"