Florida Road Trip — Nine-Year-Old Style. New Smyrna Beach.

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After helping Mary ease into her sixth decade last night, I didn’t set the alarm today.

Even in the summer, I’m up before 6:15 every morning. Last night, going to sleep in my old room with no reason to get up before 6:15 other than to exercise voluntarily — I chose to see how late I could sleep.

When I crawled out of bed at nine, I looked at my Joe and asked, “What should we do today?”

“The BEACH!”

The beach is an hour away from my childhood home. And get this people. At this beach you can drive your car right on the sand.

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When we announced our plans to my mother her response. “By the time you get over there, we have thunderstorms every day.”

Pooh.

She was right you know. Central Florida has been the Central Florida of my childhood recently. Huge electrical shows every afternoon. But what the hay? We drive and hour and just get an hour on the beach. Better than no hour on the beach.

By the time we gather our things. Stopped at the store for provisions: Cheese-Its, pretzels, water and sunscreen. It was almost noon before we got to our spot.

Joe was fired up.

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Notice dark clouds behind him.

But no. I wouldn’t.

We swam and boogie-boarded. Made drip castles and scooped up tons of periwinkles shimmying down into the sand.

One line of black clouds, rain and the occasional flicker of electricity went by.

Phew.

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We bought hot dogs and snow cones. Swam some more.

Then this cloud. A cloud of biblical proportions gathered to our north.

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Surely this was the cloud that would send us home. But we had been there at least two hours so not bad.

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This was the view on my left.

This was the view to my right.

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And somehow MIRACLOUSLY (with a few flickers and KABOOMS that made me nervous) the storm stayed out at sea and passed by us going southeastward.

Hurrah.

We ended up staying as long was we liked. The high tide washing into our chairs and towels.

As we were packing up to leave I heard a “Jamie?”

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One of my sister’s closest childhood friends.

So that was fun.

The whole day was fun.

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This was the last shot before I pulled out at 5 o’clock this afternoon.

In life, a lot of ugly storm clouds threaten.

But hang in there.

You’ll probably get a lovely day.

Right?

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Christmas Found Me. The search for my cheese.

You would think after almost 50 years, I’d get used to someone moving my cheese.

My life interrupted. Plans changed.

But when someone hides your cheese at Christmas, it takes awhile for the emotions to adjust.

I got a call last Friday night that they moved my Dad to ICU.

So we decided to pack up everything and head down to Florida for Christmas.

Nothing was wrapped. I still had shopping to do. But when someone moves your cheese — even at Christmas–  you must go in search of it.

Said goodbye to our tree (it was so pretty this year).

 

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We loaded up clothes, presents, wrapping paper and plenty of Scotch tape and started driving.

I shared the backseat with my two youngest.

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After a couple of hours when laptop batteries die and your seat doesn’t recline, you begin really think Santa must be supernatural to put up with riding around in that sleigh all night.

~ ~ ~

Christmas Eve was spent with family.

That was the wonderful part of having to search from my cheese at Christmas in Florida. So much of my extended family still lives right where I grew up.

This was the Christmas Eve I knew as a child. Kids bouncing off the brick streets and everyone donned in shorts and flip flops.

 

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Of course, this also included a Christmas Eve visit to my Dad in the hospital.

I thought I’d find my cheese there.

Nope.

But Dad was okay. Sad he wasn’t coming home and not with the family for his favorite holiday.

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So we left him with a Christmas kiss. I so wish I could have strung a little strand of twinkling lights over the large sliding window doors into his room — but as kind as ICU nurses are at Christmas, that didn’t happen.

~ ~ ~

Then we went to our family party.

The Christmas Eve party went to at six months old.

Surely my Christmas cheese would be there. Found somewhere among the 60 relatives that now gather.

It was wonderful to laugh and talk with cousins. Remembering those Christmas Eves long ago when we would run outside in the warm, dark night — searching the Central Florida skies for a red blinking light.

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I pulled out my camera at the end.

We said our goodbyes.

~ ~ ~

At home there were presents to wrap.

Maybe I would find my Christmas cheese there?

Every year I stay up way too late wrapping everything so the kids wake up to a tree transformed with presents. I couldn’t get my wrapping mojo on so  . . .

At 10:30 my sister and I decided to leave the excited children and head to church.

I used to love the 11 o’clock candlelight service before children came. Communion and candles and quiet worship.

We went to church in Winter Park. Not our church growing up, but we knew of the minister who had been an associate pastor long ago in our Orlando church.

Sorry no pictures from the service.

It was beautiful and quiet.

Communion and prayer at the altar.

Then toward the end, a soprano sang O Holy Night. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like it. Just when you thought her voice couldn’t be anymore spectacular — she reached a bit higher.

It was then. In a strange church, certainly not the church I thought I would be this year on Christmas Eve — that I found my cheese.

Christmas came once again.

Change is never easy but to live is to change.

In the quiet, solitude of church — the baby who changed the world was reborn in my heart.

Hope for me. Hope for humanity.

A late Merry Christmas to you.

 

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O Christmas Tree were you always so ho hum?

Still in Florida.

Dad is a little bit better. But so many questions.

In periods of uncertainty, constancy is always welcome.

In my life tonight, stability is represented by that little Christmas tree pictured above.

It sits in the middle of a small lake (some might say pond) in front of the house I grew up in. Ever since I can remember, there has been a lighted tree on the lake this time of year.

When I was young, the entire neighborhood would gather on a Saturday morning. Adults would decorate the tree. Then a rope would be attached to the float and us children-folk would walk along the bank.

We pulled and walked and pulled and walked in a sort of tug-of-war with that danged floating tree.

As we tugged on our semi-circle journey around the pond, the tree would glide toward the lake’s center.

It looks so much bigger in person tonight than this silly iPhone photo.

Wanting to get the best picture, I walked all the way to the water’s edge and snapped the image.

Poo.

It looked so small.

I then stretched my arms into the darkness straight out at the tree as far as I could and clicked again.

Poo.

Still most unimpressive.

No you never can go home.

I stood there looking at that tree.

Hoping to fill a void — just a teensy bit.

The tree was out on the lake for another Christmas but it didn’t feel the same as it did those long ago Saturday mornings.

 In fact, it hasn’t felt the same for a while.

Maybe the tree isn’t as tall, the lights as bright or the water as clear as it used to be?

Or maybe it’s just me who’s changed?

Linking up with Greta @Gfunkied and Julie @Mamamash for another Wednesday’s iPPP.

GFunkified

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Legoland Florida. Thank you for starting an obsession.

Roller coasters.

That’s what my son said was his favorite part of summer so far.

I beg to differ. This has been the summer when his love for Legos took over his life and every inch of our bare floor.

Linking up with MamaKat, I chose prompt:

4.) Ask your child what their favorite part of Summer has been and then blog about it.

This was it.

 

Or more exactly this ride.

The cars.

This ride was for children ages 5 – 13 years. They first sat through a driver’s ed class explaining the rules of the road.

As you can see the Webb family was packed for a full day of amusement park fun in the Florida heat.

On the other hand, as the day wore on — I left everything I carried into the park in a locker.

Camera, purses, phones, packages of things we bought (yes, you end up buying stuff), everything — except a credit card and driver’s license to flash when using said card.

After a full day of riding everything in the park (50 rides) — this is the one they both loved.

Other than a wooden roller coaster, which came in a close second.

The cars. Just goes to show you, regardless of economic strain and ecological worries — American’s love affair with the auto most probably won’t die with this next generation of drivers.

Since we have been back, my son has ogled and Googled every way he can think of to find Legos cheap online. An impossibility it seems.

As far as the park goes, this is not an official review but I have to give it a big thumbs up.

I found a “buy adult get a child in free” coupon online. And even if you don’t have a coupon, buy your tickets online to get a discount. There was a huge line to buy tickets and we just walked in.

It’s not cheap. But if you have a grade school age child, crazy about Legos — there won’t be a better time to spend the money.

We stayed from 11 to closing at 8 p.m. and got our money’s worth.

It’s quite the pretty little park. Sitting on a lake, it was the site of the old Cypress Gardens for any of you old school Florida peeps like me.

So….

What was your child’s favorite moment of the summer so far?

And for those of you interested in seeing more of the park, here are a few pictures I took before stowing the camera in a locker.

I really need to see about installing one of these in the backyard.

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Sandcastles and snowmen. Miniature golf at Walt Disney World.

We golf. Well, miniature golf.

Yesterday, the children and I planned to hit the beach.

But in the morning we were moving slow as the Atlanta connector at 5:15 due to a rather late day before at Legoland.

 

 

So when lunchtime came and the hour drive to the surf became more daunting, I changed plans.

We headed out to the miniature gold course at Blizzard Beach at Disney World.

I was pleasantly surprised.

First by the SHADE and second by how cute it was. Okay. I’m a mom foremost (golfer second) and it was really a cute theme…Santa’s off-season golf resort.

I had the round of my life.

Of course you can’t see the amazing-ness radiating from me because I was the one taking all the photographs.

 

 

I won.

And only >20 points over the course record.

Augusta next spring break.

Don’t you think?

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In the Land of Never Enough Time ~ We made time for Art.

Home.

We are home from a whirlwind trip to Florida making many stops along the way.

After my alarm went off this morning, I read an email from a friend saying sorry we couldn’t get together while I was visiting family.

Traveling back to Florida is like that.

The optimism of my expectations clashes with the reality of three children who have expectations and so many hours in a day. I don’t seem to juggle that very well. But we did manage to make a stop at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival which has been going on as long as I can remember.

 

It’s huge and fun and full of creative things from all over the country. I get to go with my mom and hear her say like she has said since 1970-something,

“Is all this stuff art? Why do they clutter it up with all this stuff?”

I enjoy it all. Took my youngest little creative spirit and he hung in there pretty good.

Most of which I recorded in photos is not traditional art. Probably because a three dimensional object photographs better than a painting. Or maybe because I just thought these things interesting?

The lion made out of 50,000 welded nails worth $25,000.

 

 

The floating dancers.

A few silver  life-size bodies twirled overhead, but didn’t show up too well against the sky.

 

This tent was full of pieces that look like the artist watched a Tim Burton movie marathon then woke up to create.

 

And there were lots of great things to eat.

Though my little artist was sad they were out of the boiled peanuts we found something he liked.

We went Friday and I felt like going on Saturday before we drove home.

The creativity bug energizes me.

Are you the Art Show type?

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Catching fish means removing some hooks.

Fishing.

For my formative years of life, before I cared about boys and acting somewhat girly, often I was found barefoot with my hands wrapped around a line that was dropped in a lake.

 

 

Looking just like this.

Except I didn’t use such a fancy-shmancy lure. We only had hooks and purple worms.

When my daughter caught this little bass yesterday, she tried to remove the hook.

 

So she called to me from the squishy, muddy lake’s edge to help her remove the hook.

Eew.

I can’t do that anymore.

Where was my son?

The son that caught this guy earlier.

 

Well, he was far away catching things out on a boat in the bay.

Poo.

So we struggled.

Actually, my daughter ended up getting the hook out fairly quickly.

See, she didn’t mind touching the fish. Which now in the intervening decades has begun to gross me out.

Yes, if you play with a rod and reel you better be willing to touch some fish.

Or bring your daughter fishing with you.

Do you fish? Or did you back when you could touch their slime-coated bodies straight out of the lake….?

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Musing on Monkey Ears. The Playground Weapon of Choice.

The weapons.

 

Anyone who was ever a child in Central Florida recognizes these.

Those merciless weapons known as Monkey Ears or Elephant Ears. If you were lucky, a tree that dropped these seed pods was planted in the middle of your school playground.

With all the anesthetizing and sanitizing of things, zealous school safety marshals probably have removed most of those trees from school yards. But way back when, their seed pods were the item of choice to hunk at each other.

One brandished them in an upturned palm and flicked it with a whip of the wrist — like a Frisbee. If it made contact with skin at a high rate of speed your opponent got a welt that looked like a hickey in the shape of the state of New Hampshire.

Kids are drawn to them like my toenails to gemstone nail polish.

My children are no exception. We always take plenty pods back to Georgia in hopes of starting our own Monkey Ear tree farm.

Recently we were out walking the streets of my childhood neighborhood. The children were picking up Monkey Ears and shoving them into pockets.

A fellow out walking his dog stopped.

“I remember those things. Deadly…what we used to do to each other with them.” He got a wistful look in his eyes…

See. Everyone who was ever a child in Central Florida has respect for the power of the Monkey Ear.

If there’s a strange looking sprout in the Primary School Playground, just let this be our little secret.

What did you chuck at your friends on the schoolyard?

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Musing on Saying Goodbye NASA. Or could it be hello?

Can’t get this image out of my mind.

I saw this picture in a post on Momo Fali’s blog.

Father and Son: STS-1 and STS-135

Take by Chris Bray, it’s a father and son at the first shuttle launch — and the last.

As a girl growing up in Central Florida in the 60s it was the Space Program and oranges. (Then a Mouse moved to town in 1971.)

I am a girl of the Saturn rockets.

Those long white beautiful creatures. Stripped as zebras.

A picture exists of my sister and I under a marquee of the Titusville Holiday Inn heralding, “Good Luck Apollo 13.”

I collected all the mission patches. Apollo 13 was my favorite.

Hope it's still in my parent's attic.

Apollo 13. As a child I didn’t realize what danger they were in.

There are memories of riding at night in the back of my parents’ car as a voice on the radio wondered if they were going to make it home.

I looked up at the moon, thinking they’re up there somewhere. Circling.

Make it back home?

That was silly. NASA and astronauts always made it back to plop in the Pacific Ocean in those battered, baked capsules. Bobbing along, waiting to be picked up by the USS Ticonderoga.

Oh, yeah. Later on..some didn’t make it back home.

I was there that first Shuttle launch in April 1981. A few months before graduating from high school. In Central Florida this April, I almost got to see one more liftoff. But Endeavor’s was scrubbed.

Many years ago, when John and I were newly dating, he was riding to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us.

Heading into Orlando on I-4 (just past OBT) cars started putting on their hazards and pulling over. First a few. Then dozens lining the interstate.

Right about the time we got to downtown — up went the flame. The little flame roaring skyward.

“Look John, there’s the shuttle.” I half watched, half drove, comforted by the sight of that little flicker against the black just as seeing Lake Ivanhoe again makes me smile on the inside.

When it disappeared, John said, “That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” (This of course was way before our wedding night.)

Weird. The most amazing thing he’d ever seen.

That’s when it hit me…those launches were special. Hearing the roar rolling and bounding down the beach well after the bird was gone.

Light travelling faster than sound.

Good-bye beautiful rockets.

I don’t know what to say” hello” to ~ but I’m sure there’s something.

And I don’t want to feel sad.

What do you remember?

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Musing on Verdicts. And what’s a good age to start shaving legs?

I really wanted to write on something funny  today — and then the jury handed down the Casey Anthony verdict.

My father watched every square inch of that trial.

He did this because he is 84 years old and has time on his hands.

And because he practiced law in Orlando for almost 60 years.

He was before Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. many times. Dad said he was a sound jurist and the trial was in good hands.

Too bad it wasn’t a bench trial.

I asked my father what he thought of the verdict. He e-mailed back:

No. I think I’ll forgo including his comments in this post — other than saying: “We love you DAD”

It was a horrible thing — the entire mess of it — from sordid beginning to end.  I’m not a blood-thirsty person. Not a death penalty person. Just looking a the weight of the evidence, I didn’t see this coming. It was like driving a long and turning the corner to see a cow escaped from his pasture standing in the road.

Thank God, I had a normal childhood. Thank God I never wigged out. (Other than a brief dalliance with a  midlife crisis triathlon obsession. Triathlons are wonderful. Just best not to overdose on them when you have family.)

Speaking of which, my daughter just came into the room wearing some of my lipstick.

That’s what I was going to write on ….before the verdict.

My daughter and her request this morning to shave her legs.

I can’t remember when I did, though I do remember it was before that dreadful female monthly hemorrhaging thing started.

What do you think?

What is the average age girls start shearing the hair off their legs?

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