Thursday, June 30, 2011

Don't be so crabby!

While in Florida, we had the opportunity to do something we have never done before. . . go crab hunting. Right before dark, little sand crabs come out of their sand holes and search for food. With flashlights in hand, we walked the beaches to spot these little creatures. Maddison was an excellent "spotter", but the daring prize goes to Mason, who loved to dart around and catch the sand crabs with his net. The big blue crab, pictured above, was making his nightly rounds when Josh snagged him. Unfortunately, he was put in the same bucket with the little sand crabs and the result was not pretty! Mason was crushed that the big crab killed "my very favorite animals" while in the bucket with them. 
I grew up in Missouri.  This nightime crab hunting reminded me of the summer lightening bug hunts we participated in as children. The object was to "catch and release".  On the beach it was fun to watch the groups of people, armed with buckets, nets and flashlights, try their luck.  It sort of looked like a halloween parade. Just another life experience and great memory from Florida!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Miami Vice. . . well at least an air boat!

One of my favorite activities in Florida was taking a ride on an air boat. We skimmed over marshes with water that was only 2 inches deep. All riders had to wear headphones because of the loud roar. Even though we didn't see any gators or panthers, we did see some beautiful birds and lots of fiddler crabs running up the shore. The ride was short, but lots of fun. We actually were biding our time waiting for a table at the Boon Docks restaurant. Quite a little deal they've got going there!

A Fish Story

The fishermen (women) and their big catch. Red snapper, grouper and vermillion. It was delicious! Randy and Amanda both claimed the award for the best catches of the day. . . Josh was unusually quiet when the bragging was going down. . . at least he caught some this year. Last year when they went he came home empty handed, while Amanda had better luck. Don't think she let him forget that either!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Florida Gang

I managed to talk the travelers into posing for this picture outside a local seafood restaurant. As you can see, we had all been in the sun most of the day and are various shades of red and tan. We managed to eat some very good seafood while in Florida. The kids loved the shrimp, while Josh and Randy raved about the yellow fin tuna. Possibly the best seafood we enjoyed was the Red Snapper and Grouper that Randy, Amanda and Josh caught off the charter boat. I passed on that excursion since I get horribly seasick. Jim, Joanne, Maddison, Mason and I visited some gators while the other fished.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beach Babies in Florida

We just got back from a week long stay on the Emerald Coast of Florida. We rented a house on the beach between Panama City and Destin. It was so much fun to experience the sand and ocean with Maddison and Mason. They especially loved hunting for sand crabs at night with a flashlight. Sort of reminded me of catching lightening bugs in the summer in Missouri! We had a bucket with two small sand crabs and a larger one. Then they caught a blue crab, which ended up killing the other crabs in the bucket. Mason was heartbroken! I guess it was a lesson in nature for him. More about the trip coming up soon. For now it is laundry, cleaning and getting ready to return to work.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Dad

I am going to be gone on Father's Day. I feel like a negligent daughter when I say this, but it just can't be helped. So, in lieu of my presence, this is going to be my Father's Day Gift and card all rolled into one. I am counting on my wonderful "adopted" mom, Martha, to help me deliver this greeting. My father has not yet dived into the social media/computer water that consumes much of my life so Martha, you will have to guide him to this blog.
Dear Dad: You and I have gone through a lot together in the last 53 or so years. Of course we have not been alone on this journey much, and have been in good company with Mom, Debbie, David, much later with Rita and now with sweet Martha. I know you had a whole life before we came along, and I can't speak of those days. All I can reminisce about is the years I have known you. Some of the earliest memories I have with you revolve around fishing. Since you didn't (yet) have a son to take fishing, I guess Debbie and I were the next best thing. I remember fishing trips to the Macon Lake, to the Magnuson's pond up the road from Grandma and even later quite a few trips to Sugar Creek Lake. What I remember most about those trips were your patience and your joy at sharing information about the world around us. As we discovered this world, you always took the time to share what you knew about the trees we liked, the bugs we spotted or the snake swimming across the water. We were probably the most informed preschoolers in the area. I knew the difference between a bug and an insect, I knew how to tell if a snake was poisonous, I knew to look out for poison ivy and how to protect myself from tic bites. And this was all before I was in kindergarten.
And what a role model you were for us in our schooling! Early memories of you included going to your college graduation and seeing you in a black robe. Hanging out with you in the back yard while you studied and assembled a really cool collection of butterflies and beetles on the picnic table. It seemed like you always had a textbook in your hands, or were taking notes.
Then there were the summer mornings spent in the garden. I think I was your early morning buddy (I still love to get up at the crack of dawn). I remember helping you plant a garden (the seeds needed to be spaced in the rows under the string you used to keep everything straight), then harvest the vegetables from that garden. Do you remember calling me "Charlie"? I loved that (even though now I think it must have been because you wanted a son. . . .)
In the winter, I remember you were in charge of bundling Debbie and I up for school. We were wrapped so tight some days I wasn't sure I could bend! Other winter memories include your excellent care of me when I was sick (which seemed like all the time!). You would tilt us back in a chair over the open oven door to dry our hair (before hand held hair dryers). Then there were the Vicks Vap-o-rub steam treatments. You were such a great care taker. I remember one time when I was very sick with asthma. I had just been diagnosed with it, and you held my hand and patiently explained what asthma was, how it affected the body, and what I could do to feel better. You even helped me learn how to "breathe" to slow my respiration and get better oxygen intake. Of course this was all before the great medicines that they now have.
And as we grew, your calm, intelligent approach to our childhood ups and downs set a good example for me. I have to smile when people ask me how I stay so calm at work. . . I always think of you and the many times I heard you advise us "don't get excited, take it slow and use your head". This great advice has served me well in my career.
You were always there for us, Dad. You worked hard to make sure we had what we needed, even if it wasn't always what we wanted. You taught us to value education and to save for the future. You set a good example in your life through your honesty, integrity and dedication to family. True, you weren't the baseball coach, the scout leader or the "life of the party". The lessons you taught us and the lessons we learned by example have helped me lead a quality life that I am very proud of.
So, Dad, on this Father's Day, as we mark 53 years together, I want to finally thank you. Thank you for choosing a wife (Mom!) to balance out your strengths and weaknesses. Thank you for showing us the way and for mentoring us by example, strength, care and love. Thank you for always being there and having the answers we needed to the questions we asked. I have always been extremely proud to call you my father. I know that it is sometimes hard for you to show emotions with us. And we don't always say what needs to be said. So, I am writing this tribute to you as a heartfelt Father's Day gift and as an essay that is long overdue. I love you and I thank you. For all the things I have mentioned and the many more that I haven't. Have a great day! Love, Diana

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Our daughter-in-law, Amanda is graduating today from Cosmetology School. She has worked hard for a year for this day, and many sacrifices have been made to allow her to reach her goal. I am proud of her and the efforts all of her family made to help her get here. This dream is part of the reason why Josh spent 8 months in Alabama (extra money to help Amanda reach this goal). She is considered a non-traditional student at the school, since most of her classmates are under 20. Her dedication to her craft is apparent in the pride she takes in her work. I have never attended a graduation at a Cosmetology School, but I am looking forward to this and watching her reap the benefits of hard work and effort. Congratulations, Amanda!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Mole Cricket

I think the mystery of the unidentified creature has been solved. (See picture from Sunday's post.) My father (former biology teacher and consummate scientist) hypothesized that the bug type thing that Mason found on Sunday is a mole cricket. After Googling this, we came to the conclusion that it indeed was a type of mole cricket. Wikpedia says that they live on every continent but Antarctica. So why haven't I ever seen one of these bugs in 53 years? Turns out that they are nocturnal and spend a great deal of time under the ground. I guess that explains it! I was happy to know that they are harmless, so Mason's wallering of the bug didn't leave either of them worse for the wear. This falls under the heading; "You learn something new every day!"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What A Weekend!

In the first photo, Mason found a "creature" that we could not identify. It had a squishy body like a lizard type thing, but looked more like a bug. It had 6 legs and a tail. Mason found it in a swamp like area of our farm. Can anyone identify this for us?

Photo # 2 shows the area we worked on landscaping on Sunday. We were short about 6 feet on the black material we laid under the rock and bushes. We hoped to get everything done but the final rocks laid, but no such luck. I guess the grand finish will have to wait for the next work day!

In the next picture, Maddison put Mason's F150 to work to help transport the plants. The kids were actually a big help. They have really enjoyed this project, which originally started with a lot of dirt work (read: worms, grubs, rock and roots).

Finally, I had to show off our first harvest. Believe it or not, we got this fairly large zucchini from our little garden. It was delicious!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's All About Your Culture, Baby!

I attended a training today on cultural diversity. I have been to trainings before on this subject and was expecting a rerun of what I had already heard. This speaker, however, presented the information in a new way. She really got me thinking about how our culture affects us in our work and relationships. At the end of the presentation she asked for volunteers to share their background and cultural "beginnings". It sort of reminded me of the adage, "Everyone has a story to tell." What is your story? What is your culture and how was it formed? I would love to hear from you. I will give you just a preview of what mine is:
Middle child from a middle income family raised in a conservative home that valued education highly. Did I add that I was raised in the Midwest? If I was writing an essay on my cultural background, I think that is how I would start it. Of course I would have to add that I have Catholic roots, am Caucasian, suffer from the Irish coloring of my ancestors (blond, not red hair), and value family over all other things.
How do you view your culture? Remember, it is not just about the food you eat, the color of your skin or the land of your origin. Please Share!


Mason loves to keep things moving! He is quick witted, sweet and rarely is still in mind or body. Ahh. . . one of life's simple pleasures, a 3 year old boy!

Mason's funny. . .

I went shopping with Amanda and the kids last night after work. Shopping with a 3 and 6 year old has its specific challenges, not to mention I had already worked all day and was tired. The kids were getting restless and Amanda was pulling out all the tricks to get just a few more minutes out of the kids. We pulled up to the last store and Amanda said; "When we get finished here. . . we will get some ice cream". From the back seat, Maddison said; "I knew you were going to say that Mommy, I knew you were going to let us get ice cream". I said to Maddison, "So, you think your Mom's predictable?" Mason, apparently feeling the need to defend his mom, piped right up with; "My mom is not that. . . she is very, very nice." I started to explain to Mason what predictable meant, but by the time I stopped laughing, he was already interested in something else. Mason's quick wit and constant dialog never fail to amaze and amuse me. He is a fellow in constant movement and motion, of both his body and his mind!

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Hot!

Yesterday we continued to work on our outdoor landscaping project. We wanted to get an early start to beat the heat, but somehow that just didn't happen. So, we found ourselves closing in the end of the porch during the hottest time of the day. And boy did we pay for it! When we finished I came in and took a nap (rare event) and then last night Randy suffered with muscle cramps. According to WebMD, he had heat related muscle cramps. No news to him, since he has suffered with this condition for 40 years. He will often have cramps in several locations at the same time, which can leave him bent over in extreme pain. He took some over the counter pain medication and drank some salt water to get his electrolytes balanced again, and finally the pain eased some. It is so frustrating, because there is really nothing I can do to help him when he is going through this. His muscles were sore this morning when he got up. On a positive note, the enclosure looks great. Our boxer, Gracie, is not too happy about it, though. She loved to hide under the porch to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. She has plenty of other places to go (including a dog house), but none that she likes as well. All in all, it was an interesting day here. It is almost nice to get to go to work today!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday in the Summer

I can't believe that I haven't posted since Wednesday! Time really flies when you are busy. We have several weekend projects going right now. We are finally working on landscaping, and picked out some plants and bushes yesterday to put in the front of our house. We are such amateurs at this. The selection was small so we probably don't have as many as we will need. Neither one of us has a "green thumb", which makes this a struggle for us. We decided to do it ourselves after pricing a professional job. This is one decision we may come to regret someday. We even bought a landscaping book for advice, but it is like buying a dictionary to learn to read! It isn't that we aren't willing to do the physical part of the job, we just really don't know what we want or how to make it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
We also got a "wild hair" to add a gazebo type structure to the back end of our yard. We have a small deck in the back of the house, but this will be a free standing structure with a cover overlooking the draw in the back of our house. It will have a beautiful view of trees and a winding creek. I have asked for built in benches all around for seating. I am not sure what we will use it for, but it will have a great view and some very nice shade around it. I will post pictures as the work begins. Right now all we have done is stake it out and cut some limbs around it. Another adventure begins! I hope we can make some progress this weekend, but neither one of us likes the heat too well, so the work may be slow going. The temperatures are supposed to be in the 90's all weekend. Finally, summer has arrived!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What the Hail?

On Saturday morning, we watched as the sky kept getting darker and darker. Then the rain came and suddenly it began to hail. What an odd experience hail is. As quickly as it began, it ended.

I wonder if there is a Biblical precedence for the weather we are having this year. Blizzards, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods and hail! And to top it all off, this is the year of the locust (cicada). Didn't the good Lord put Egypt through something like this? I am not a doom and gloom sort of girl, but I am considering the possibility that global warming is causing this, or weather patterns are changing, or . . . or what? I keep thinking that I must get all my affairs in order. But then again, what good would that have done the people of Joplin, or Japan, or Alabama, or Memphis? I guess I just need to remember that there is a higher power and that I must live like this could be my last day. . . make it count and let the people you love know that you love them!