Tag Archives: Florida

Six for Saturday

Sorry I missed you fine folks yesterday. I was busy writing for people who actually pay me for it, so…sorry not sorry?

1. Meet Coconut Bubba. He was a free gift we picked up at a festival a few weeks ago. Addison became attached to him immediately, named him (rather creatively) and has since been dressing him in complete outfits. She was wasting so many of her own clothes on C.B. that I had to pull out two buckets of her old baby clothes she could use instead.

IMG_0451Maya took a liking to Coconut Bubba, too, except that affection resulted in the loss of his eye buttons.

2. Related: If I forget to put out Addison’s outfit for the next day, she’ll pick up the slack and create her own ensemble. The problem comes when her choices are a bit…festive for school or open gym.

IMG_0448 I don’t like stifling her creativity, so I’m trying to delicately suggest alternatives to tutus all day every day. And other days, I’m more “Throw some leggings underneath and let’s go.”

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A future in fashion, perhaps? Or clowning. Much of my life is spent trying not to be a Mitch.

3. C’mon, man.

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There’s no sense in fighting it at this point. Clayton’s cleaning the pool this weekend, so at least there will be one outdoor activity I’ll consider. 

4. Halloween was hot. Like, temperature hot, not “wow, that mom looks smokin’ in that old nightgown barely covering her see through tights” hot. The first neighborhood we hit was unresponsive, so we bailed like the socially mature adults we are and came back home to walk around our neighborhood. Addie did quite well for herself in terms of the chocolate to pretzel packs ratio, though a hefty 35.7% Mommy Tax will be enforced daily.

IMG_0397IMG_0402IMG_0404IMG_04095. It’s well documented that I hate cooking, but when I do find some motivation, I consult this book a lot. Either I’m using the recipes or I’m flipping through the index for the page on “how to caramelize on onion” or “what is a meat mallet?”

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6. And this super exciting, very recent development brought to you by our Friday night.

Clayton spent the day at a charity golf tournament. It stretched on into the evening…

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but so worth the solo bath and bed time routine.

kayak

Papa’s got a brand new KAYAK!!! Maybe not hating on those warmer November temperatures quite so much. Paddleboard + Kayak = true paddling love.

Today we’re breaking away kid-free for the first time this season to watch the FSU/Clemson game. So basically we’ll know around 6:30 tonight if this weekend will be a wonderful one or a terrible one.

Oh, who am I kidding? We have a freaking kayak, it’s a WONDERFUL weekend! 

Five for Friday

It’s late. What’s new.

1. I don’t always buy my lingerie at Goodwill, but when I do…it’s under $4. (Halloween prep at its classiest.)

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2. It was ALL KINDS OF HALLOWEENY up in here this week.

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3. Nightmares for days.

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Seriously, I watched “Beetlejuice” for the first time last week in anticipation of this costume and it is banana nuts! WTF is going on in that movie?!

4. We made our annual fall trek to the farm last weekend. It was significantly hotter this year than any other year we’ve gone, so while we tried our best to grin and bear it…

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by the end we all pretty much felt like Addie.

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“Are we done here?” But alas, any trip that ends at Capital Tacos is a trip well worth it.

5. And the scariest event of all is Asher deciding he’s almost ready to crawl.

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Not ready for ya, bro.

Halloween obviously has top billing this weekend. Per usual, we have a family theme and are planning to crush it. Mainly because we’ll be the only ones over 12 dressed up, but..details, details. And then the most glorious holiday on the calendar appears: November eat all the leftover chocolate week. 

Five for Friday

It’s cute that all over the country people are donning their plaid and “enjoying the weather before winter comes,” but…

1. If I hear one more person that lives anywhere near my zip code say anything along the lines of, “Fall is here!” or “I’m so excited it feels like fall outside!” I may lose it.

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This does not a fall day make. We should probably move. Again.

2. But it’s not all sour grapes over here. Last Saturday was particularly gorgeous (but still, it was like a spring day, not a fall day). We made a little trek to what was advertised as a big festival-type event, but the ad way overpromised. Our first clue that the content was copy/pasted from a previous event should have been the part that mentioned meeting Santa Claus.

There wasn’t much going on, so we quickly hit the hot spots (free teddy bear that Addie is still carrying around), picked up lunch and drove to a nearby park.

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3. Since I somehow missed that genetic mutation for white girls making them obsessed with pumpkin, I actually don’t like it. However, I’m not above the magnetic draw of a Starbucks seasonal flavor. I want a toasted graham latte every single day until March.

4. We hit up the farm this week with some friends. I assumed that because the horses were all out in the open, completely accessible with no signage beyond “Hi, I’m Mabel,” that they were safe to pet or, I don’t know, stand next to. And then this beast tried to nip the fingers off my kid.

IMG_9875Okay, truthfully I know nothing about horses; maybe it was trying to sniff her or whisper something to her? But I do know that it sort of sputtered, jerked its head toward her and I saw teeth. Thank you, Thunder, for the lifelong equine phobia my daughter has to look forward to.

But these two were the sweetest together, so there’s that. It’s really insane that in a few months, they will be the same age as my friend and I were when we met.

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5. I may sound like a bitter autumn scrooge, but look at me being festive.

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This weekend’s to-do? BEAT MIAMI.

Five for Friday

My mother in law is in town for a quick, impromptu visit to meet our little man and Clayton is off today, so my normal lazy Friday is out the window. Let’s jump in so I can get back to our holiday weekend.

1. When the in-laws are here, it’s time to dust off those pots and pans and present a finely crafted illusion of domestication. At least the rouse provided my family with one full, well balanced meal this week.

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Sorry if that half cooked meat grosses you out. I am imagining my pregnant self seeing that picture, and, well, gag fest. Still not changing it, though.

2. My dad took the day off Monday, and we took the troops for lunch and exploring at the park. This is a park we frequent, and I’ve always assumed the “beach” was saltwater. My mom thought it might be fresh water, so naturally we Googled and it turns out it does get fed by a lake on one end and Tampa Bay on the other. I say all that because saltwater = no alligators and fresh water = alligators. Thanks a lot, Mom, for that new red alert at our favorite park and paddleboard locale. I’m hoping the water is more brackish and the only possible threats would be bull sharks (which I am always on the lookout for while on the board because I would exaggerate the mess out of that story) and, worst of all, razor burn after getting in too soon after shaving. This one I can actually attest to after Monday.

pawpaw addie park

Ain’t no nap like a picnic table nap ‘cuz a picnic table don’t stop.

Or something like that.

table nap

3. Major Gap sale happening. In the store, the clearance sections were marked down an additional 50%. Hello, $5 kids clothes. My finder’s fee was an outfit for myself.

4. We went to the children’s museum this morning.

musem view ig

I could talk about how fun it was and how we stumbled on a secret patio overlooking the University of Tampa for lunch, which is true, but the reality is that we couldn’t find Addison for several minutes. I don’t know exactly how long it was because the seconds stretch on for eternities piled on top of eternities when that happens. It was probably close to 10 minutes. If anything like this has happened to you, 1. please let me know so I feel less like an absolute failure as a mother and 2. you know how long 10 minutes can be. I can’t talk more about it because it’s still too fresh and I can feel the remnants of that terror lingering in my wobbly legs and fingers.

5. I don’t want to end on that note because THANK GOD Addison is home, in her bed, napping peacefully. Instead, let’s get frivolous and celebrate this national treasure that starts Sunday! In related news, Florida is becoming a bit of a hot spot for great white shark sightings. Because gators and stingrays and pythons and panthers weren’t enough. We caught ourselves one a few years ago.

shark week

It was a wild one.

Have a festive July 4th! I hope the hot dogs are delicious and the fireworks are spectacular and, if you have kids or a dog, are over by 9 p.m.

An al fresco summer

This weekend we got out of the house more than my reclusive tendencies have been allowing lately. Friday night we were considering going out for an early dinner, but Addison snoozed for longer than expected and we got lazy. Enter a crazy idea from Mama: picnic dinner at the park.

We picked up some food and headed to a shaded park (because it was still 85 degrees at dinner time) with some grand plans of summer fun. With the exception of two falls with subsequent meltdowns, one flat on the mulch tantrum, one bruised cheek, three ant bites on my foot, one mosquito bite on the infant, one wasted kids meal and an hour late bedtime, it was a complete success.

park dinner

Despite the inevitable difficulties, I keep thinking, “This is it. These are the nights and moments that you will look back on. What will you remember?” I know my life is not the brazen string of exploring and adventures I once imagined. I am happy I had my fair share of those and don’t truly believe I’m fully done with that brand of trekking either.

For right now, though, the exploring hovers close to a suburban, single family home. My adventures involve a packed SUV instead of an overstuffed backpack and overflowing passport.

But these days are no less memorable. In many ways, they are more so. And I want to remember a husky laugh echoing from the swings, a breathless “Mommy, look at me touching the sky!” I want to soak in a summer night that radiates the thrill of breaking from routine, to take advantage of days that pour sunlight over the witching hours and draw us out of a physical and mental hibernation.

I want to borrow my daughter’s immediate agreement to new ideas: “Sure!” And then go. Do. Create. Swing, climb and jump. Maybe not across the world, maybe in no way that garners attention or envy. But in our way, the way that will linger in our minds throughout any looming winters. In the way that these four souls will remember long after the mulch has been washed from stringy, sweaty hair and the ant bites have healed and the bruises have faded and so has the thrill of playgrounds or hanging out with your parents on a Friday night.

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So yes, it was muggy and strenuous at times and my toes itch like no one’s business right now, but it was a really good summer night.

Five for Friday

At this moment, Addison is babbling away in her room instead of napping, my mother in law will arrive any second, I’m nauseous from needing to eat and tomorrow we are having my baby shower at my house. So, in speedy fashion, here are some things that amused me this week.

1. A visit to the new Tampa Riverwalk complete with actual physical activity (gasp!), fountain splashing and divine spring weather.

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2. Easter adorableness accentuated by unintentional cousin coordination.

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3. Because I’m 13 years old.

photo 54. An impromptu trip to the beach on a Monday, which I nearly missed due to inane reasoning that “I had too much to do.” If someone asks you to go to the beach on a Monday, shut up and go. 

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5. I accidentally left our bedroom door open when I ran errands Thursday. Maya took complete advantage and discovered a brand new box of tissues. Just imagining her confusion, wonder and sheer delight when MORE KEPT COMING OUT makes me giggle uncontrollably. I wasn’t even mad, I was really wishing we had a nanny cam in there to see that play out.

tissues Back to the to-do list! And a snack.

Babymoon

You know how most times, when you build something up in your head for weeks and weeks, it’s a total mega let down once it actually happens?

That was so not the case with Babymoon #2.

Any time someone asks me about it, I can’t help but describe it as – wait for it – perfect. That’s right. Perfection. And I don’t toss that word around lightly. Usually I’m up to my ears in “okays,” “goods” and “nices.”

We dropped off the girls after pancakes on Friday. I guess they were both experiencing a carb hangover.

photo 1Then we drove the two hours to Fort Myers. We were a little early to check in at our B & B, so we grabbed lunch downtown at Ford’s Garage. We didn’t realize this until Saturday night, but a group of owners basically bought up the entire downtown and owns four, soon to be five, restaurants. We ate at almost all of them. We knew something was up when there were chickpeas in our salads at three different restaurants.

fords1All of the restaurants are themed. Ford’s is obviously car-themed, complete with cleaning rags for napkins and a big car hanging over the bar that honks and shoots steam. The food theme is aortic blockages. We were fans. However, it wasn’t the best place for a prego desperate for a beer. Sad [sober] face.

fords foodAfter lunch we headed to The Hibiscus House, a newly renovated bed and breakfast just outside of downtown. We’d never stayed at a B & B before, so this was a bit of an experiment for us. Our room was gorgeous, the bathroom was pristine and no strangers randomly wandered into our room, a legit concern we had. Sharing intimate breakfasts with people I don’t know is not on my list of favorite ways to spend the morning, but even that proved harmless and a good exercise for my reclusive nature. Also, the breakfasts were flipping delicious. (Source)

The Hibiscus House

Gold star number one for this getaway: a two hour nap after we checked in.

Once we woke up, we got ready to hit the town. At 6 p.m. Don’t be jealous of our star status. We waited for our table at The Firestone (yes, tire-themed) on the rooftop Skybar. The view was decent and I didn’t mind enjoying my mocktail with the pre-sunset crew. It took the pressure off to hangout after dinner when I’d be ready to kick my feet up with some chocolate.

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firestone selfie1I was not really hungry, so I only had the crab cake appetizer and a grilled Caesar salad. As Clayton noted, once you get past the warm grass taste, the grilled salad isn’t so bad.

What mama wants, mama gets. Feet up, chocolate downed.

feetThis was after the bagger at the grocery store asked when I was due, looked me up and down and said, “You’re ready.” I was totally cool and level headed about it because, you know, I have two more months before I’m “ready,” thank you very much. I may have snapped back if she wasn’t possibly mentally handicapped.

Maybe it was the tunic?

Saturday we headed off to Sanibel and Captiva islands. The weather was supposed to be nasty, but it’s Florida, so never change plans based on the weather. Sanibel is just plain gorgeous. The water is this serene teal and the beaches are covered in white and pink shells. Even for someone who grew up in Florida, Sanibel was impressive.

I would have done some shelling if I could 1. bend over or 2. tolerate temps over 78 degrees. We ate lunch at The Bubble Room, which was more hyped up than it should be. It was kitschy and cluttered with plenty to look at, but the stuff seemed less like antiques and more like, well, stuff. And most of it was creepy, not fascinating, like dolls and old combs and this face.

tunnelGold star number two: It was a very, very happy accident that we were staying a block from Bennett’s Fresh Roast, known for their homemade doughnuts. I’m not going to say we planned our day around getting to Bennett’s before they closed, but it was certainly on my radar. We snuck in just before they closed at 3, so the selection was limited, but all I wanted was a classic glazed anyway. Did not disappoint. I guess that was the theme of the weekend. I’m so mushy it’s making me uncomfortable.

We lazed around snacking on our treats for a bit before getting ready to head out for the night. We went back downtown and stumbled into a car show. Downtown Fort Myers isn’t huge, but there are plenty of restaurants to fill up a weekend. We could stay close for all of our meals. Along with the car show there was a Brews and Tattoos event going on, so the people watching was superb from our patio seat at Capone’s. Fun story: when we initially asked about a table, the hostess said the wait was an hour. And then, spotting my bump, she told us to stand there for a sec. Just like that, we were seated immediately minutes before the rain came. For all the muscle aches and awkward maneuvering, this thing has provided its fair share of perks this time around.

downtown rain1Shockingly, I wasn’t in the mood for pizza and opted for a pretty bland pesto ziti pasta. Life is built on small choices, and I’m still regretting that one.

capones1Guys, I fell asleep at 9:30. Didn’t I tell you this trip was perfect?

I will blame that early bed time on the rain and, mostly, the non-plot of “A River Runs Through It.” I confused it with the other movie about a river where dramatic events take place, so I started it from the beginning and kept waiting for a major twist or Kevin Bacon to show up or basically any sort of excitement whatsoever, and nada. A little over an hour into it, I gave into sweet, sweet sleep. My husband is a lucky dude. For all I know he snuck out to go bowling (his suggestion for the night) without me. I wouldn’t blame him.

After scarfing some homemade blintzes and waxing poetic about them in the guest journal (“The fruit compote is what dreams are made of.” I seriously wrote that.), we checked out of the B & B on Sunday and drove down the road to the outlet mall. Outlet shopping looks much different nowadays and our major purchases were from Carter’s and Gymboree.

We’d learned the ropes quickly and placed an order at Bennett’s earlier in the day that we swung by to pick up after the outlets. This time I was able to snag quite an assortment: peanut butter, orange crunch and maple toffee. I would have ordered more if Clayton wasn’t hovering and whisper-shouting that three was enough. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ENOUGH.

doughnut list

All of the flavors were divine, but my favorite was the peanut butter. The orange crunch was out of my comfort zone – I’m normally chocolatechocolatechocolate – but surprisingly delicious. I’m still sad they were out of Boston crème both days. Am I still talking about doughnuts?

Anyway, we drove home and I dropped Clayton off while I picked up the kids.

I considered it a perfect babymoon because I didn’t want any pressure. If I felt like sleeping for 48 hours, I wanted to have that option. If I felt like taking an hour walk on the beach or reading or lounging in a giant  bed watching a terrible movie, I wanted to do just that. And that’s exactly what our little vacay was like. I am thankful my normally antsy, active husband was flexible enough to go with the flow, even though the flow was like seven-months-pregnant molasses most of the time.

It’s a week later and I’m still wishing we were leaving tomorrow to do it all over again.

Closure & Contemplation

“The only way to find out if you’re in the right place
is to stand in the place.”
- Amy Poehler

During a brief respite from determining how I can force Amy P. to adopt me, I took a few minutes to watch this Smart Girls video of her speaking on courage. The above quote kept echoing in my head after I heard it for a few reasons.

Most obviously, I thought about our time in Virginia. Clayton and I had been so excited and optimistic to leave Florida. We’d talked about that leap for years, imagined it over and over, and finally had an opportunity. We were so ready. Never in a million years did we think that journey would circle right back to Florida two years later, at our own choosing.

nat shenandoahIn some ways, it felt like we’d failed. Scratch that, it felt like I’d failed. I was the one who couldn’t hack it less than a year in, I was the one looking for PA jobs in Florida (no one would even see me for an interview) after building up this dream of what life would look like anywhere but here. But Ames reminded me that we wouldn’t have known if that move was for us unless we actually packed up and moved. Turns out, Newport News did not hold the Noas’ glamorous, reinvented future. It did, however, hold a lot of military bases, terrible traffic and an insane job in a trauma hospital. (But weekend D.C. trips were pretty fantastic.)

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So we moved on. I think about those years quite a bit, for better or worse. Maybe moving on didn’t necessarily have to mean moving back, but Clayton and I were both so desperate for relationships. Tampa had a whole vending machine of prepackaged, ready to consume friendships waiting for us. It would have been hard to take another risk in a new city at that point. Plus, I was pregnant and wanted my mommy.

When I think about where we’ll be five or ten years from now, though, I don’t know that Florida is sustainable. Crazily enough, I’m the one who will probably initiate another foray outside the Sunshine State. Clayton has the personality that accepts things as they are; I am the wanderer and questioner. He can’t sit still literally, but I can’t stay still figuratively. After only a few years being back, I cherish the family and friends that fill my life but still wonder what might be waiting. And, quite simply, we won’t know if there is another place for us until we’re standing in that place

Apart from an actual get-up-and-go battle cry, A.Poehls reiterated some thoughts I’ve been wrestling with about my work. Writing as a career in and of itself still thrills me. Factor in doing it from home, on my own schedule, and in between caring for kiddo(s), and it’s oh so tempting to ride this wave as far as it takes me without changing course.

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But then some days, like today, I will catch a glimpse of what writing about things and people and places that truly inspire me would feel like. And I know with certainty I could do that. That’s about where the debilitating blackness of the Unknown begins to stretch out ahead. I have no idea what “writing about what I want” looks like. A book, a column, a blog that is actually maintained, a journal that never sees the light of day. Or a more creative day job that nurtures me professionally but prevents me from nurturing my family in the way I am used to.

So far, I have not felt a strong enough pull to make any effort to change my work load. I take what I am given by my current clients, weathering the hectic months along with the silent ones. Thankfully, my income has remained pretty steady and everything balances out by the end of the year. Except for taxes. God forsaken taxes.

Now that baby number that’s-it is coming along, I’ve been getting a different thrill thinking about what comes next. I am sure this was a crux, but it seemed a little pointless to dive into a new lifestyle, hobby or work situation knowing a baby was about to be on board. Could I have opened a new business or enrolled in a doctorate program in my second trimester? Sure. Would it have led to a mental breakdown ending in a murder-suicide primed for a Lifetime movie? Probably. All signs now point to the imminent end of childbearing, and I’ll be “free” to and (eek!) responsible for creating what life will look like raising babies instead of making ‘em.

It’s an exciting proposition to feel like anything is possible. I honestly feel that way, as cheesy and PSA-sounding as it is. I’m looking forward to training for all sorts of running PRs in the next decade, planning trips that require air travel and being able to take the necessary sedatives to follow through with them, visiting far away friends more regularly, and who knows what else. I was semi serious about the doctorate program. Always the scholar.

oh the places

My future second mommy Mama Amy offered an added reassurance that yes, all those plans may crash and burn—okay, not cool to use that analogy related to air travel; double my dose, please—but taking steps to stand in those places, no matter what the result, is courageous. Even more, it’s living.

Weather chasers

The past few weeks have been glorious weather-wise, so we’ve been taking advantage. It’s nice to have a break from days in the 70s to enjoy temps in the 60s. Florida is so miserable sometimes. (Seriously. See: May, June, July, August, September and usually October.)

We went to Dinosaur World with some friends who also have a toddler. (And happen to be expecting—it’s the water, kids. Don’t drink it!) Shockingly, I’d never been to DW even though it’s less than an hour away and my self proclaimed dinophile status. Too much longer and I would have had to turn in my badge to Jeff Goldblum.

The park ended up being larger and more exciting than I’d anticipated, especially the part where a dino came strolling on by on a leash. True story, even though I have no photographic evidence. I basically loved this place and would totally go back by myself to read every plaque and take notes in the museum. Addison and her buddy found a small enclosed loop trail where they could run endless circles and burn endless energy with minimal supervision, so that was also a major win for all the parents involved.

Difficult lighting situation.

Please note the discrepancies in excitement level.

Oh, was Addison supposed to be in the picture? My bad.

There is something to be said about being utterly ridiculous every now and then.

dinosThis week Addison had an appointment with a new pediatrician. Yet another perk of our new insurance—switching all of our primary care providers. Anyway, don’t let me spiral down that rabbit hole. Thankfully he was awesome and she chatted away like the highly advanced verbal superstar she is. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true! Just ask her grandma, a trusted resource for completely unbiased and objective information regarding Addison’s intellectual capabilities.

Because it’s toddler law, I bribed her with basically anything she could ever want as long as she held it together for the visit. She did! Her request was “a pink treat,” so she took down some cake pops outside like a boss.

photo 1Then we met Clayton for lunch at a park near his work. After my weekly emotional meltdown, we had a lovely afternoon by the water.

photo 4Boots + a bump.

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A Nat oldsmarSome days she likes me.

Weekending, poorly

We have water! In the house! And not in a gurgling puddle in the yard! Hallelujah!

The plumbing “crew” of one 14-year old boy spent most of the day Friday digging a new hole for pipes around the trees of doom. I saw the actual plumber for about four minutes total, so I’m not sure how child labor laws factor in here, but all I know is we got water, apparently that sophomore has a full time job, and I ain’t asking any more questions. Clayton refers to our still raised new dirt line somberly as the Trail of Tears. I think the more accurate Trail of Tears would be the path from that leak to the bank where the plumber cashed our check before closing on Friday. Dude didn’t waste no time.

Saturday turned into a massive catch up day. I don’t know if it was a dose of the prego crazies taking hold, but the idea of not having water all week made the house seem extra germ-filled and completely sticky. So we divided and conquered most of the house and the piles of laundry that had accumulated. We are out of water for five days, the city is out for the next month as we probably used it all that morning.

The job was finished in enough time for our friend Tori to stay Saturday night. She was originally going to stay Friday, but we didn’t want her to show up and have to say, “We’re so glad you’re here. If you have to go to the bathroom, the Citgo is on the corner.”

We escorted her around town to all the hot spots, i.e. that one coffee shop/bookstore where we take everyone to act like we’re super hip even though the only time we go is to show it off to out of towners. We were all quite enamored with the bears in the hot chocolate.

bear hot chocA fellow book nerd, Tori proved to my husband I am not the only person who finds great pleasure in wandering around aimlessly staring at books I have no intention of purchasing. There’s at least two of us in the world! Three if you count Rory Gilmore, which obviously I do.

(Related: There was a little girl named Lorelai at the playground the other day and it took every ounce of restraint I had to stop myself from skipping over to her mother and girlcrushing her to death with something like, Whatever heinous crimes or general absurdities you commit from this point on, it doesn’t matter to me because I am already certain we were meant to be bffsies.)

(Kind of also related: If you didn’t understand any of the last three sentences, why are you here?!)

And then we rounded out our humiliating display of hard core Noa weekending at Ruby Tuesday and a three-year-old birthday party, where I assured our childless guest there would only be one other kid and we’d stay for a half hour, tops. Two hours and SEVEN children under four later, Tori had disowned me as a friend and started walking back to Jacksonville.  Not really, but I wouldn’t have blamed her. Hopefully the homemade ice cream cake helped. Certainly the Yuengling did.

After Tori left Sunday, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and headed to a manatee viewing center about 45 minutes from our house. The center is connected to a Tampa Electric power plant, and the gobs of manatees are attracted to the warmer water and toxic run-off. Kidding; I assume they test that stuff, but who knows? Mama just wanted to squeal at some cute manatee snouts. Because this picture can be deceivingly unimpressive, I’ve taken the liberty of finding the more obvious manatees. See? Gobs!

manatee spottingAddison was being a lot like Addison and not having it at all when we were actually checking out the manatees. So she was stuffed in the stroller and left to her own whiney devices while Clayton and I tried to find sharks in the water.

A manatee

Once Addison woke up a bit and had the universal toddler medicinal remedy of a snack, she was ready to party. We walked the half mile trail to an observation tower, some of which was covered in shells. Have you ever tried to make forward progress with a toddler engrossed in finding shells? No, you haven’t because that is an impossible feat of nature. Every shell was delightful. Every speck of dust was necessary for “my collection.” Like most two-year old activities, it was adorable for seven minutes and excruciating for 20.

But then, at the tower, there were STEPS! That drew her attention away from the ground and into the sky and she manhandled those five flights with energy to spare. My little power lifter. I probably should have taken a picture of this part, but nope.

Since I actually completed some form of physical exercise, I spent the majority of the walk back deciding my reward. Something that would clearly provide twice the number of calories I’d just burned. We stopped at Sonic for shakes and slushes and tantrums before I let Clayton make dinner while I worked on yet more laundry.

We capped off the weekend with Felicity narrowly escaping machine gun-wielding apes. I want Maurice as a pet.

(Source)maurice