Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Family Dinner

Alex and Tiana came over for dinner last night, and Alex prepared roast lamb. It was delicious! Alex doesn't work on Tuesday nights, and so we normally have dinner together on Tuesdays. Reggie also came over for dinner.

Today I am cleaning the house to get in back into pre-Thanksgiving week condition, and then I'm going to the kids' school to attend their Book Fair. I also have to return the new jeans I bought Kev (too small) and get a size 14 husky. This morning I noticed that we are almost the same size. When did that happen?! He needs the jeans because tomorrow he is going to St. Augustine with his class on a field trip. They are going to visit the old Spanish fort there, which Kev loves. They have to be at school by 7 am tomorrow, and they'll be back by 6 pm.

Monday, November 26, 2007



Kevin is a Webelo Scout at LHPS, and is currently working on citizenship. There are 5 boys in his den, and the parents have divided the responsibility of den meetings up so that each of each plans two monthly meetings during the school year. This month was our responsibility, and had to do with citizenship. At first I thought it would be good for the boys to visit the Winter Park Police Station, but they turned me down because the boys' home den is in Orlando, not Winter Park. Then I tried to plan something with the Orlando Police Department, but they told me I needed to make the request at leaset 6 weeks in advance (!) and besides, the date I wanted coincided with the Grand Opening of the new Ikea store near Millennia Mall, so no one would be available. (!!)
Scouts with Mr. Jeff Briggs

Front Row Seats!

Mr. Jeff Briggs and Scouts
So.... I talked to Jeff Briggs, Planning and Community Development Director for the city of Winter Park, and he suggested that the scouts attend a City Commission Meeting, which are held on Monday afternoons at 3:30 twice a month. The boys met first with Jeff, who told them about what he does for Winter Park, and then they attended about an hour of the City Commission meeting, which dealt mainly with building issues. They met the mayor, Mr. David Strong, and an Orange County Commsionner, Mr. Bill Segal. They were invited up to the podium to lead the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a great opportunity for them to see how a city government functions.
Mayor David Strong and the Scouts

Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal and the Scouts

We went to Panullo's after the meeting for a pizza dinner. Jim and Catie came and met us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Biking in Baldwin Park

Cate, Tiana, Kevin and I went biking in Baldwin Park today. It's a short bike ride from our house to Cady Way, and then to Baldwin Park. I still can't get over the transformation of the former Navy Base to Baldwin Park. It looks like a town that was created for a TV movie set, with perfect New England style houses, manicured lawns, lots of parkland and bike paths. There's also a small downtown area with restaurants and shops. The idea is that someone could live there and work there, and never need a car to go to restaurants or to shop or play sports.

We had a very good ride, and went to Stone Cold Creamery, where Alex met us while we rested and had an ice cream. Alex was driving, so he left to meet us at home, and we left to ride around Lake Baldwin and get back on the bike path. We were almost to the bike path when Kevin and Catie collided, and Catie went flying off her bike. Luckily, she was wearing her bike helmet so at least she didn't hurt her head, but she skinned both knees and her elbow pretty badly.

We called Alex, and came back with the car to pick up Catie and T and their bikes. Catie is now resting watching TV with bags of ice on her knees and arm.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Cady Way

Kev and I have started biking on Cady Way, which is a 3.5 mile long bike trail that runs through parts of Winter Park and Orlando. It hooks up with the bike trails in Baldwin Park on the south end, and with the Econlathatchee (or something like that) Trail and Blanchard Park on the north part of the trail. It includes a fantastic bridge that spans Semoran Blvd./SR 436, which we have wanted to cross since it opened about 6 months ago. It is really too hot to bike in Florida in the summer, and so we have been waiting for the weather to be cool enough to be enjoyable. This weekend has been perfect biking weather.
On Saturday Kev and I went out riding for about 2 and half hours. We went over the bridge on 436, and rode to Forsyth, which is really close to the Eastbrook neighborhood where T lives, then turned around and rode to Baldwin Park, where we stopped at Cold Stone Creamery and had an ice cream, then rode all the way around Lake Baldwin, which has its own bikepath. Baldwin Park is really made for biking.


Catie's Sleepover

Catie's 8th birthday is next week, but we decided to celebrate it early before people get too busy with Christmas events. Only one girl and her family couldn't make it to the party, so I think the timing was right.

We started out the evening with a spaghetti and meatball dinner for Catie and her friends and their parents. It was a bit hectic, as there were a lot of us, so we ate in two shifts, feeding the kids first. While the parents ate the kids decorated gingerbread men (courtesy of Costco!) so we could eat in relative peace. The parents left around 9:30, and I got the kids to lie down on their sleeping bags in Catie's room, which lasted until about 10:30 pm, when Catie came to tell me that some of the girls were crying for their mommies. Oh dear. I figured everyone was way overtired, so I split them up into three bedrooms, and let the two die hards stay up and talk and laugh until the wee hours, while the rest of us went to sleep.

Miraculously they all slept until around 8 am, and then ate a french toast breakfast courtesy of Jim and Kevin in front of a blazing fire, courtesy of a fake log. It was actually colder inside the house, so the kids are now all outside in the front yard playing some kind of espionage game that involves guns and talking covertly into broken cellphones. I'm ready for them to go home so that I can go on a bike ride with Kev!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Catie at the LHPS Veteran's Day Program


Catie's Big Day

We're having Catie's birthday party tonight, (as Cate says "It's Great to be 8!") and she has been planning this event for weeks. She has invited 5 girls over for a sleepover, and I think most of them will be able to come. Tiana started running a fever last night and went home early, so we hope she'll be better by tonight. One the agenda for this evening: Dance Dance Revolution, making gingerbread men, manicures and pedicures. No doubt Cate has some other activities planned as well. We have to go out and face the shopping hordes later today to pick up prizes for Dance Dance Revolution.

Some of the parents are coming over for dinner, which will be nice. Now I just have to get the house picked up from yesterday so that it looks somewhat presentable.

It's a gray, rainy kind of day, so I'm not exactly motivated to get anything done.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving Day

We all had a great Thanksgiving Day! My day started out with a call from Angelo at 7 am, and throughout the day I talked to my 3 sisters in Massachusetts, and my sister and brother in law, as well as some friends.

I got started early on the pies (pumpkin, pecan and apple) and took the turkey out of the fridge to wash it and get it ready to cook, and then Alex took over when he arrived. He and his friend Sarah cooked the entire dinner pictured above. It was absolutely fantastic. Kent and Rene were with us, so we were a group of 9. The kids had set the table for 10, though, so Angelo there was a place at the table for you even if you weren't physically with us we were thinking about you!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Bike Riding

Our intention was so get up early on Saturday and go bike riding right away, and then drive over to the beach for the weekend.

Well, we all ended up sleeping in until about 9:30 am, which is very unusual for us, but all those 6 am mornings all week have a way of catching up to you. I thought we should clean the house first, which we did, and then we had to drive over to the Cortland house to replace the rental sign that was stolen yesterday (who steals rental signs!), go the library to check if they had the WWII book Kev wanted (they did), go see Wendy to bring her some Airborne, and go the Post Office. Meantime I got a call from someone who wanted to see the Cortland house, who said they would be right there in 10 minutes (they weren't, but they did come 30 minutes later, so we spent some time pulling weeds while we waited. Then off to Publix for subs, when home to eat, and we were on our bikes by 3.

Cate, it turned out, had forgotted how to ride a bike, so we spent about an hour coaching her to overcome her fear of falling off the bike. Then we rode/walked to Winter Park high school to ride in the parking lot, where Catie had lots of room to practice. Her bike riding skills finally kicked in and she did great. I don't think I have been in that parking lot since I gave Angelo a lesson in driving my Subaru many years ago.

We then found the bike path, and rode for a few minutes until we decided to call it a day and went home around 5.

We're going to go pick up Tiana and head for the beach for the night. Ghost crab hunting here we come!

Friday, November 16, 2007


It's Cold!

The weather was predicted to turn cold overnight, and it sure did. It was 45 degrees outside on the ride to school this morning. Cate wore here leggings under her jean skirt - Fridays are "Spirit Day" at their school, so they get to ditch the uniform and wear jeans with a casual school t-shirt instead of the more formal look. Kev wore his boy scout uniform, also an option for Spirit Day.

Jumper is loving this cold weather, and won't come inside the house. It must remind her of Monteverde.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Donna's Busy Day

This post is a reaction to the question: "What do you do with yourself now that you're not working?"

We normally get up around 6:45 am every day, and this morning we were a little lazy about getting up. Jim is in Costa Rica for a week, which means I have to take the kids to school in the morning, so by 7 am we were all up, and getting ready for the day.

I dropped the kids off at school around 7:45, and noticed that there is a LOT more traffic on the roads. I think that the Snow Birds have arrived, and probably a lot of Thanksgiving relatives are in the area as well, because there are a lot of cars on the road. After dropping off the kids I went to the Post Office and then to Miller's Hardware ("The Ladies' Harware Store"!) and bought replacement parts for a toilet in a rental house. I dropped that off at the house, and then had to drive in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go because there was so much traffic on Aloma Avenue at 8:30 am that I couldn't make a left hand turn. In the midst of my traffic dilemma I got a call from Angelo, but to my surprise it was EJ who said hello! That was a very nice surprise.

I then went home to work on some paperwork. I need to get new homeowner's insurance because mine will be cancelled in March, but I was going to change it anyway, so it's not a problem. I also got a notice that our mortgage company never paid our 2005 taxes for a rental house (it took the city THIS long to let me know?) so I chatted with a lovely guy in the Philippines for about an hour trying to get that straightened out. Then I tried fixing my laptop (no luck, I'm going to have to bring it back to Best Buy). By this point Jim had called 3 times, and he asked me to drive downtown to check out his commercial building there because his tenant is having a problem, so I went to check that out. MORE traffic. No sign of the tenant, so I headed for home, but decided to call my friend Wendy who had invited me to lunch.

Wendy was in a bad car accident last month, and is still finding it hard to get around. She's using a wheel chair or a walker, and it makes outings challenging. Today she just took her walker because I had trouble earlier in the week trying to get her wheelchair into the back of my car. I thought I was pretty strong, but that wheelchair is pretty heavy, and I can't really manage it. Anyway, we went to Hot Olives on the West side of Winter Park, and had a great lunch. Well, I had a great lunch. Unfortunately Wendy's jaw is wired almost completely shut, and she is on a liquid diet, so she could only have soup. The title above is linked to Hot Olives if you want to check it out.

Angelo won't believe how much this part of Winter Park has changed. It is very trendy with lots of restaurants and little shops - more upscale than Park Avenue.

After lunch I did more paperwork, started to work on Catie's party invitation (She wrote it: "It's great to be eight, so let's selabrate!"), ordered flooring for the wood floors in the rental the plumber ruined when he left the water running for 5 hours and flooded the bathroom and the bedroom, and got someone to fix the kids' bikes so that we'll be able to use them this weekend when the weather turns chilly.

Left to pick up the kids at school around 3, parked instead of going through the car pool line so that I could buy some lunch tickets and pay for their charges. Kevin handed me his homework folder which I was supposed to sign, and which I promptly left at the lunch ticket office, and only remembered it hours later. Oh well. They both go to math tutoring at a school called KUMON on Mondays and Thursdays, but we decided to do that after Kevin's fencing class, which started at 4:20 and runs for an hour. Went to KUMON from 5:30 to 6, and then finally home. What a long day for Catie and Kevin.

I had already made the turkey soup stock in the morning, so when I got home I added Kevin's requests: rice, potatoes and noodles, and snuck in some onions and carrots, which he carefully picked out before he ate the soup.

It's almost 8 pm, Catie's bedtime, and Kevin follows around 9. I'm usually in bed not long after they fall asleep!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Catie's Red Letter Day

When Catie is in the car, we have to listen to Radio Disney. For those of you who are familiar with Radio Disney, you know that there are lots of opportunities for listeners to call in for a variety of contests and prize opportunities. You can also call to request a song. The problem is, it's pretty hard to get through on their 1-888 number, and Catie has only managed to get through a couple of times to make her request.

Yesterday on the way to school I was driving in my normal too early to be driving morning haze, when Kev, who was listening to Radio Disney, suggested that we should try to win the current contest and be the 10th called to call Radio Disney. I figured I'd humor him, because I figured THAT would never happen, because it is a national radio channel on XM, and I knew we'd never get through. Surprise, surprise, on my 3rd try a voice announced cheerfully: "Radio Disney!". Catie got so flustered when I handed her my phone that she started to stammer out a request, when Kev reminder her she should ask if she was the 10th caller. "Guess what, Catie! You are the 10th caller!". I thought all she had to be was the 10th called and she would win something, but then there was a quiz: she had to identify 3 songs contained in a little snippet which they played for her. It wasn't live, which I thought was strange, because on the radio these little interactions with kids sounded live.

Cate knew 2 of the songs, but couldn't identify the first one, so the announcer kept giving her clues, and she kept guessing. On about her fourth try, she got it right, and said: "Catie! You won!" What she won was a chance in a drawing, and the winner of that drawing will get a phone call from the Jonas Brothers, which would have been like getting a chance to have the Beatles call me. Cate is pretty excited, and is working on what she'll say to the Jonas Brothers.

By this point, we were at school, and so Cate didn't hear her very much edited telephone conversation on the air, which played a few minutes later.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I'm Back!

It has been a little crazy getting settled, and I can hardly believe that we have been back here for 3 months. We are now into our school routine, as well as our ballet, jazz, tap, Boy Scouts, Brownies and fencing routines.

Tomorrow Catie is performing in the Veteran's Day Program at Lake Highland. She's wearing a military uniform, and is singing patriotic songs with the Academy Singers. Kevin has to get to school early in his Boy Scout uniform, so he can wave the American flag in front of the school to greet all the vistors who are coming to see the programs at 10:30 and 1:30.

Nora and Gene are making the ride over from Spring Hills to see the show, and then we are going out to lunch to celebrate Nora's birthday.

Jim and Alex are heading out to Ohio to attend Andres' wedding.


My Christmas Wish!

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