Family Vacation 2003

Ok, this is waaaaaayyyyyyyy outdated, but I found a random cd while packing and just got around to looking at it this morning. These are pictures my brother, Kevin, took on a family vacation to Marco Island Florida in 2003. We stayed in this great house called "Big Pink" which was right on a tributary, had a pool, and was a block from the Gulr of Mexico and just north of the Everglades National Park.

We spent time on the beach, of course. It was difficult to drag ourselves out there, let me tell you. Beaches in southern Florida are drastically overrated (note dripping sarcasm).

Beach pictures…

Yes, this is some sort of giant bird eating a fish…

Collecting shells… This part of the western Florida coast is known for amazing shells that wash up after storms.

Cute one…

Reason number one why I loved my grandmother so much. She was such a trooper. She couldn't walk very well at this point in her life (I believe she was 92) but dang if she didn't plop herself into the fat wheeled beach wheel chair so she could get out with the family.

Of course being so close to the Everglades we did a touristy day-trip where we took a pontoon boat tour, an air boat tour, and a bus tour. I think we might have also gone to an alligator park but I could be making that up. Pics of the family, activities, and beasties…

Pontoon Boat – it was raining like crazy when we got there, but it's Florida so it stopped and got beautiful an hour later.

This pelican landed on the roof and got fed by the boat owner. Trained, of course, but still cool. Look how big its beak is!

My older brother and his wife. He hasn't made too many appearances on the blog because he lives in San Francisco and we don't see them much as we'd like.

Reason number two why my grandmother was awesome. The pontoon owner had a baby gator on board that we all got to hold. Her face is priceless…

My turn with the gator… I looooooooovvveeeeee animals, so this was as fun as Christmas.

Air boats… by far the highlight of the day. They were AWESOME. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Air boat video… Wheeeeeeeeee…

We saw the most "wild" animals on the bus tour. I put wild in quotes because yes, they do live in the wild, but they were clearly trained as well as Pavlov's dogs to come running when they heard the bus motor. All of them. Even the gators knew to swim to a certain spot so they could get their treat.

Wild boars… Furry isn't he? I wasn't expecting that.

Running to meet the bus at the designated treat spot…

Wild bears… Waiting patiently at the designated treat spot… Nope… Nothing there yet.

Racoon eating its treat… Marshmallows… We got to feed it. Don't tell the Humane Society.

Feeding the racoons video…

And gators, of course… Also lured and fed marshmallows. We did not feed them.

Me thinks this one's had too many marshmallows…

The bus…

It was a great vacation. The Florida sun is HOT. I got burned after being in the sun for *minutes*. Crazy. The sunscreen industry must be booming. At least I hope so.

One thing I noticed after looking at the pictures… I'm still wearing a lot of the same clothes now. Ha ha.

One of my favorite memories was how much Kevin & Jean's kids loved my brother Rick. The climbed him like a ladder, beat him up, followed him around like puppies. He just has the "big kid" kind of way about him. Plus, it seems he tastes good too…

Fun times… We should do it again soon.

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Mini Family Reunion

My brother and his family (his wife is Vox-er Jean) came east for vacation in July. I got to go see them for an afternoon in a park.

My nephew, Frank, showing one of his many talents. He also plays piano, trumpet, and is taking up trombone.

My neice, Sarah. Jean blogged about her pretty purple hair last month. This is what it looked like after too much exposure to the sun and chlorine. I love it like this!

Nephew #2, Logan. We look like twins in our matching JMU windbreakers. It was raining like crazy which is why we also look like drowned rats.

The twins, Langdon & Trevor. This is one of the very few moments they were both stationary and together long enough to get a picture.

My brother & Jean…

We celebrated my brother's birthday while we were all together. TODAY is his actual birthday. Happy birthday, Kev! Frank made the origami flowers on the cake.

The highlight of the day was the recycled tire playground. It was awesome! So many fun things…

A giant fish piano…

Lots of swings and things to climb on…

But the best part was a zip line. Everyone rode it, even the babies. It was a hoot.

My niece, Marin.

Even though it looks like my brother is doing a lot of helping, it was just the timing of the photo. The twins both rode it all by themselves a bunch of times.

Finally, two videos for your viewing pleasure. The first is called "Frank Goes Flying". Things got a bit rambunctious on the tire swing. Please notice my teeny tiny niece and nephew down in the center of the tires. Also please notice my much bigger and stronger older niece and nephew on the corners of the swing. Please notice the violence with which Frank goes flying. Oh yes, people got hurt, we just didn't get those on tape…

And last, my personal favorite. We managed to convince my mom to try the zip line. Hee hee. Sorry, mom. You know I love you!

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First Update in Three Weeks… Yikes!

Hello Voxies,

Thank you MexicanShrimpCocktail for the nudge. I am alive.

My last post about the money issues sent me into a two week stress-session where I ate my weight in chocolate and fretted about the future. But I'm ok… I was just in one of those places where talking about it made it worse and everything seemed to lead back to talking about it. If I posted anything on here it would be doom and gloom and what-if's. So I practiced avoidance theory, holed up and beat Big Kahuna Reef 2, ate chocolate, and worked on getting my plan figured out.

Plus my brother was here and he is fun and was a nice distraction, so I spent a lot of time hanging out with him.

Now he is back in DC preparing for his next big adventure and I have been to State College to find my new home. The only thing between me and my own big adventure is 6 weeks of work at JMU and packing packing packing.

So, for now, here's my new place in State College. I am VERY lucky to have gotten in because they only put a sign in the yard to advertise so I was just fortunate enough to drive by. Plus they were concerned about my cats and hesitant to allow them in. But, I won them over with my dazzling personality and credit score and it is mine! Well, for the next three years anyway. Ha ha.

A beautiful place. I am excited. It's only 1.5 miles from campus, so I can walk or ride my bike. A bit more expensive than I wanted, but options two and three were not really even close in comparison. This will be my sanity and sanctuary during the PhD program which I am sure will push me past my limits at times.I will need a place to go home to that recharges me and helps me relax and unwind.

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Paint your own Pottery

We got our mugs back and they turned out GREAT! We are both very happy with them and are talking about going again soon. If any of you are considering doing this, here are some things we learned that might help:

1) The stain color looks really light when you put it on but dries ten times darker in the kiln. So pale pale pink actually might be red after it's done (see the Phoenix).

2) The raw pottery feels really rough and scratchy. Think of the feeling you get when you scratch your nails on a chalkboard. That's kinda how it feels to touch the raw pottery.

3) Intricate designs look great but can be very time consuming and frustrating. Bring your steady hand and patience.

4) You layer the darker colors over lighter colors when painting, so it's better to have a design thought out before you go unless you will be going free-for-all (which is fun too).

5) Think a few steps ahead if you have to hold the pottery in order to paint it so you don't end up putting finger prints in the paint. We ran into this trying to paint the handles, interior and bottom of the mugs. Tricky…

Sigh… I can't figure out how to get rid of the giant space between the mugs. Dang formatting options. If I try to backspace or delete the spaces, it just deletes the photos. Ah well. Just pretend there is cheesy music playing during an intermission.

Before                                                                                              After

Cheesy music and Intermission. Talk amongst yourselves.

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New Roomie & New Beginnings

Hello folks. My brother, Ryan, has been in town visiting since last weekend – hence the lack of Voxing… We've been having fun doing stuff.

Here's Ryan while we were at lunch one day…

Zooming in on the important part…

We went to the Arboretum one afternoon. Just gorgeous. Beautiful weather, baby ducks, pretty trees… A perfect day.

Oops… Comcast guy is here… Will finish later… Byeeeeeeeeeeee!

Take Two… Ok, I'm back. Comcast problem turned out to be a caption setting turned on… Weird…

So, it looks like Ryan might be staying here for two months, ergo the title of the post. He is transitioning between living in Washington, DC and moving to New York to pursue his passion of working in the music industry. I am transitioning between working at JMU and going to Penn State to pursue my passion of a PhD in Communications. We decided to celebrate our transitions by making special mugs at the pottery place. New beginnings… for both of us…

Ryan's mug. Symbolism includes a Phoenix – rising from the ashes – and skulls – in Native American tradition, death is celebrated as a new life.

My theme was Spring… bright happy colors, flowers blooming, and my personal motto – Follow Your Bliss as a secret message to myself inside.

Finished products should be back on Thursday. I'll post pictures. Yay!

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Weekend at Mom’s

I'm back after a wonderful weekend at my mom's new house. It's perfect, out in the country, tons of deer all over the place, peace, quiet, and room to roam. It gets so dark at night you can't see your hand in front of your face. There are no lights from nearby businesses, no street lights, and no porch lights to speak of because the neighbor's lights are blocked by trees and the direction of the houses (it's a cul de sac). It's two blocks to a beautiful body of water and small marina where you can go kayaking or moor a small boat. The locals call this body of water a "creek"… You be the judge, I've put photos below. We lost track of how many deer we saw. They literally were everywhere in groups of 3-6. Only saw one buck and he was just past button, but it's clear there's at least one male running around lovin the ladies. TONS of turkey vultures (thought of you Sweet Misery). I included a photo below of them on top of a roof. Unfortunately I took it a few seconds too late because there had been twice as many up there but we spooked them.

My mom and step dad could not be happier. This is their dream home and I'm so excited for them to move in and start this new chapter of their lives. I loved the house so much myself that I'm threatening to "forget" to submit the rest of my PhD apps and move in with them instead. I offered to pay my way by being good company. I think that's a good deal, don't you?

The house itself is fascinating, the longer we were there the more we start noticing little things that made us wonder about the previous owners. Like, for example, the downstairs bathroom… It's bright friggin red. Bright like a fire engine or a red crayon. That by itself is not the problem. What makes it weird is that there are no bright colors in any other part of the house. Every other room is a neutral or subdued color. Weird… Why just that room? And if other rooms were bright like that why change the whole rest of the house but leave that one? Hmmm…

Then there are the white ceramic tiles on the window sills on most, but not all, of the windows on the first floor. Again, why? Why not all of them? Why just the ones they chose? And why ceramic tile anyway? I can see it in the bathroom because there's tons of tile there, but why in the living room and den? The windows are all framed in wood, there is just an extra strip of white tile on some. I don't get it.

Anyway, here are photos from the house and neighborhood. Enjoy!

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