Thursday, December 31, 2015


A NYE to remember!  What a great day!  We started the day with a stroller walk, followed by 1:1 beach walks and reading on the ocean deck.  The guys discovered the owners left a kayak and they had a lot of fun with that.

Shawn and Kate were dinner buddies for a "surf and turf" dinner of fresh lobster and sirloin steaks, and pesto bread, Caesar salad, and key lime pie.  Kate also hosted a wine tasting, and when I erroneously tagged the cheapest wine as the most expensive, Joe chimed in and remarked that made me a winner!  We waited for midnight with a dance party (tunes by dj Matt) and rang in 2016 with champagne and fireworks (provided by Scott).  So blessed to have these prized individuals in my life!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Another great day! The kids decided against a trip to Miami, and instead stayed on site for most of the day. They ventured out for happy hour at a local tiki hut called Flounders and, reportedly, ate conch, kalimari, gator nuggets, jumbo shrimp, and assorted other fried Florida food.  In the afternoon, they enjoyed the company of Austin's dental school friend, Daniel, and his friends and family - they swam in the ocean together until a school of fish sent them to shore. Grammy and Gramps enjoyed the sunset evening shift on campus with JSS.

Mornings in Manasota Key

As much as I like sitting around in the dark listening to the ocean on our deck in the evening with the kids, I really value the mornings. We usually sleep in here (per Cedar Rapids standards), and wake up to the sounds of Jacob in the family room. We typically find Kate on the floor playing with him and we creep around the corner and he looks up at us with delight. We encourage Kate to go back to bed and we grab Jacob and the stroller and head out. In between talking about the beauty of the neighborhood and the sounds of the ocean and exotic birds, we plan strategy for morning breakfast. Sometimes it's boxed muffins; today it was fresh bacon and egg-spinach-mushroom muffins. We meet like-minded friends on our walk, and they always generously agree that our grandson is the most handsome baby they've ever seen!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Another perfect day in paradise!  We had a late morning girls outing - first to Target and then to the nail salon (thanks KJS)! The best part was the lingering conversation over pink Moscato while the nails dried with my two girls.

We played on the beach in the afternoon and then my dinner buddy (Kelly) and I spent a few minutes in the kitchen making chicken enchiladas and Mexican salad (aka "two hour salad"). We had a marg/guac happy hour and dessert involved two chocolate kinds of cookies, fresh and warm with ice cream. In the evening, we played Phase 10 and lit sparklers and Roman candles. The time with this group of loved ones has been such a blessing and the memories will keep me smiling for a good while!

Monday, December 28, 2015


Today was a perfect second day of our vacation. We just enjoyed the water and each other. Matt and Joe were dinner buddies tonight; they served country-style pork ribs, salmon (amazing), Italian sausage, homemade mac n cheese with Gruyere and two other cheeses (as well as toasted bread crumbs on top), fresh bread, a luscious fruit salad, and salted caramel and fudge Oreo ice cream sundaes.  At night, we stepped to the deck, for drinks (Hemingways for some) and several rounds of the game "Cards for Humanity"!