Wednesday, March 27, 2013

See Ya Real Soon!

Pete's mom and siblings all gussied up on Easter Sunday.

Top of the morning to ya, friends!  I hope that your week is going quite well.  Since this is officially our Spring Break / Holy Week, I am signing off until Monday.  I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your week and a glorious Easter.



P.S.  This amazing event is happening right now. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Secret Chef Says..."I Like It Spicy!"

Someone new has just joined us here on "This and That", but I can't tell you his name or else...well, let's just say he is an Italian with connections (cue music from The Godfather). We will refer to him as "Secret Chef" for now.

I can tell you this, Secret Chef makes culinary magic for one of the largest corporations in the world.  Sticking close to his roots, Secret Chef's cuisine is influenced by the flavors of Italy and the Mediterranean. He is best known for his seafood masterpieces. Oh and he likes spice, lots of it! He even has his own personal pepper garden.  Bada bing!

Secret Chef has taken time out of his busy schedule to generously share with us three amazing recipes that come together to make one killer spring time meal, complete with a sizzling strawberry-jalapeno glazed shrimp that goes from grill to table in no time.  Bada boom! Thank you, Secret Chef!  

Strawberry-Jalapeno BBQ Shrimp over Taboulleh with a Petite Herb Salad
Looking for a something easy and different, here’s a great way to utilize some great Florida Strawberries that are currently in season.  Grilled shrimp offer a great flavor and texture only the kiss of an open flame can offer.  The addition of the Strawberry BBQ Sauce and Taboulleh makes it a refreshing addition to your culinary repertoire.  Happy Cooking!

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 2/3 cups boiling water 
1/3 cup olive oil 
1/3 cup lemon juice 
1 cup chopped green onions 
1 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 
3 each tomatoes, chopped 
1 each cucumber - peeled, seeded and chopped 
To taste Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste 

  • Combine bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover, and set aside to soak for 1 hour. 
  • Add oil, lemon juice, onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and cucumber; toss to combine. 
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper. 
  • Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Petite Herb Salad
½ cup Fresh Basil, torn in small pieces
½ cup Cilantro, leaves picked from stems
½ cup Green Onion, thinly sliced.
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Season with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper 

Strawberry-Jalapeno Glaze
1 cups Chopped Strawberries 
2 each Jalapeno Peppers, seeded
1 each Lemon, juice only
1 cup Sugar
Kosher Salt to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients.   Transfer to a small saucepan and reduce until thickened.   Be careful not to scorch, keep the heat low.     

Grilling Procedure:
Shrimp are naturally lean and cook relatively fast, so a medium-hot grill is all you need.  Grill the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, then baste each side with the BBQ Sauce.  You’ll want to brush on the sauce, then turn the shrimp and brush the other side.  Continue to do this until the shrimp are fully cooked, about 5 minutes.   You’ll want to turn them frequently, the idea is to give them some color and allow the sauce to caramelize while the shrimp are cooking.

Since it is the height of strawberry season, I love the use of those little gems in this meal.  This is sure to be one of our spring time favorites!

Thank you again, Secret Chef! And this is where I like to imagine him saying, "Fuhgeddaboudit"


Monday, March 25, 2013

Humor Horse

When it came to socializing on the farm...

All the animals thought that Jan was nice, but she was timid, shy and she really lacked in charisma.  Jan was quite mousy...

On the other hand, Sue was very outgoing and fun, but tended to be a bit of a hospitality hog...

But, Betty? Well, all the animals loved congenial, so inviting. She always made them laugh...

Why, she was a real Humor Horse!



Sunday, March 24, 2013

From Uterus to University - No Return Policy

Baby Pete and his brother and sisters
Pete and I both come from large families.  I am the oldest of six and he is the youngest of five.  It does not seem strange to us to have a robust family of our own.  We enjoy our monkeys and treasure each stage and phase that they grow through. Some of those stages and phases are more difficult than others.

There is always a learning curve waiting around every corner when it comes to parenting.  Lots of life lessons to be learned.  It is humbling really.  I still feel like an amateur mom everyday and I have been doing parent thing for almost 16 years!

One lesson that we have learned is that some kids are better with transitions than others.  A couple of our monkeys just seem to roll with life.  They do not appear to be bothered by something like a move or maybe a new sibling. Some of our other monkeys are more sensitive to change.  We have concluded that these monkeys have my genes, because I am not fond of change.  Growing up, I remember that it would really bother me if my mom rearranged the living room, or (gulp!) my bedroom.

As we have welcomed new monkeys into our zoo, not everyone has been at ease with the idea.  At four years old, our sweet middle monkey girl had her little world turned upside down when her baby sister was born.  She had been the baby for a long time and now there was this new human jockeying for her spot.  The new human didn't play fair either.  She took up a lot of mom and dad's time and she was not an instant playmate like our little monkey was hoping she would be.  Oh, and she became middle monkey's noisy (and sometimes stinky) little roommate.

I heard an analogy once that stuck with me in regards to how some children might feel when a new sibling is brought into the family.  It would be like your spouse suddenly bringing home another spouse and spending a lot of extra time with that person.  I know it's a strange comparison, but it did make me wince.  Then for good measure, I gave Pete the stink eye and made him wince.

So, what's a parent to do?  I mean, you can't return the new human and ask for a refund (although your older child might fancy that idea).  What we found that you can do is allow your older kids to feel how they feel and meet them where they are at emotionally.

We did not take it personally that the new baby was not welcomed wholeheartedly at first.  We provided as many opportunities as we could for our middle monkey girl to spend alone time with one of us.  We also encouraged her to cuddle up next to us when the baby was in our arms, slowly introducing her to her sister, letting her absorb all the newness. She would ask to hold her or burp her and we would see her slowly falling in love.

One activity that she really loved was looking at pictures of herself as a newborn and having us tell her stories about that time.  We think that it helped her relate to her baby sister.

Also, middle monkey girl liked to draw pictures.  Sometimes kids draw what they feel.  Those little scribbles and stick figures can offer valuable insights and open up communication.

Above all, we just tried to make sure that we felt secure in our love for her.  We stayed consistent with her when she would act out, but we also tried to give her some grace through it all.

Middle monkey girl seemed to adjust fairly quickly to having a new sister.  She enjoyed holding her and as the baby grew, she loved interacting with her - making silly faces at her, showing her toys, talking to her.  It was really fun to watch their relationship blossom.

Then, a year after the new baby entered her life, our middle monkey starting having some odd behaviors.  She became very anxious and she had a sort of nervous tick. Our pediatrician checked her over and concluded that she was fine physically, but that she was having some anxiety.  He believed that she was having some post-baby anxiety. It was hard for us to hear, we had really tried to help her with the transition and after all, it had been a year since she became a new sister. But then we realized that transitions are not on any type of man-made time table.  Everyone that faces change deals with it differently.  We can't rush a relationship. We can't wave some proverbial "magic parent wand" and expect that all of our kids will adjust to change in the same way or at the same rate.  We are all unique.

The new human and middle monkey girl have been sisters for eight and a half years now.  They have a very special relationship with each other. They are super close.  So close, that when middle monkey girl recently inherited her older college sister's bedroom, she decided to wait to move in.  It turns out that she loves having a roommate, even if she is still a bit noisy and stinky from time to time.

Actually, it's the dog that insists on sleeping with her that is the stinky one.

Do you have any "kids in transition" stories to share?  I would love to hear from you.



Friday, March 22, 2013

This and That - Weekend Edition

Well hello there! It's been a great week here on "This and That".  We have shared love stories, tips on how to lose weight, and even some helpful wardrobe ideas.  Great week!  And now, are you ready for the weekend?  I sure am!

We kickoff our spring break this weekend.  It is going to be a fun one!  How about you?  Is this your spring break week too? Do you have traveling plans?  If you don't, may I make a suggestion?

Two words:  Branson, Missouri

Pete just returned from a job up there, or out there, in Branson and boy, did he have a special time!  Apparently, Branson is very family-oriented.  There's lots to do.


The Titanic is now a family experience.  Yes! Because nothing brings a family together quite like reliving a tragedy at sea.  It's a warm fuzzy experience. 


Maybe, you are looking for a truly cultural experience?  Look no further than the 3 Redneck Tenors.  It's more better than regular opera because them boys got some lungs and their bird dogs are the back up singers. 


If you are just plain tired of paying exorbitant grocery store prices for your jerky, then you are in luck.  Stock up at THE Beef Jerky Outlet, because the world is too small for more than one of these babies. 


You are hungry.  Where should you eat?  There are so many choices in Branson.  Don't be overwhelmed or fooled by all the competition because Baldknobbers is where it's at.  Little old bald men serving country food!  Does it get any better?


Yes, yes it does get better!  The vacancy sign should put a smile on your face.  Plus, not one, but two show tickets.  It only leaves me with one question.  Why is this not a four star hotel?

Okay, so...

You may be wondering if Branson has any quaint little dessert spots.  I am hear to tell you that they do have one.  IT'SUGAR.  Go ahead and take the kiddos there.  They won't care that the sign out front is grammatically incorrect.  They will be too busy overdosing on corn syrup (it's Missouri's cash crop).  

If the kiddies get too amped up, you can always take them back to...

That ought to sober them up real quick and give them nightmares for a year or so. 

Well, that's my two cent tour of Branson, Missouri.  If you want the complete scoop on this mid-western gem, stop by the Branson Visitors' Center.  The people there are mighty friendly.  Just do not park in Pam Laboi's spot though.  Trust me...don't. 

Have a wonderful weekend!  Go ahead, I dare you :-). 

Oh, I have a couple more fun links to share with you from around the web.  Extracurricular stuff!

Since we were all lovey dovey here this week.  Here's a link to a  Magical Proposal....

Hey ladies...More styling tips for your lower



Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm Leaving You Winter, and I'm Taking My Jeans With Me!

Pete's mom definitely knows how to rock capris!
By a show of hands, who is ready for winter to be over?  The weather here in Florida is seriously confusing.  Hot, cold, hot, cold... Florida?  Are you hormonal?

I am ready for consistently hot weather now.  At least I will know how to dress myself and the kids.  Lately, we have resorted to all kinds of craziness in our daily outfits.  Our youngest monkey came downstairs this week wearing shorts, a hoodie and fuzzy Eskimo boots.  She debated whether or not to add gloves, but it wasn't that cold.

As soon as the weather cooperates, I am looking forward to wearing my basic summer uniform.  Capris and tees.  Ultra exciting right?

 Recently, I read an article about how unflattering capris are on most people.  It made me wonder, surely that couldn't be me, right?  I mean, I rather like the whole capri look.  Capris are like shorts older, more sophisticated sister. I decided to get my facts straight on the whole capri issue and I found this nifty little article and chart.

Photo credit:

Now that I have the 411 on capris, I guess I should shave my legs. Maybe that will signal summer to come.  Okay, all you ladies out there, give those gams a shave and scream, "I love summer!" Yes!



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Apparently, It IS Rocket Science

Lately, Little Monkey has been quite the communicator.  His vocabulary is getting more sophisticated. He told us the other day, that he is allergic to mice and rat's tails (okay, I'm not sure where that came from). He asks us daily about word meanings.  Today, he wanted to know what “mysterious” means. Oh, and he loves to debate too. He told Pete that the stars in the sky are dots and not real stars, because they are not shaped like stars. Okay. 

He is also asking really deep questions about life and such.  For example, here is a sample of a conversation that we had yesterday:

Little Monkey:  “Did God make me?”
Me:  “Yes, God made you.”

Little Monkey:  “Did He use a machine to make me?”
Me:  “No, He created you.”

Little Monkey:  “What did He use to create me?”
Me:  “Cells”

Little Monkey:  “What are cells?”
Me:  “Cells are like God’s special Legos (Little Monkey loves Legos).  They are so tiny that you have to use a microscope to see them.  He builds us with His special cell Legos.”  

I mean really, how do you explain creationism and molecular biology to a four year old?  

Then, just when I was feeling pretty proud of myself for my whole “God uses cell Legos to build us” explanation, Little Monkey asks, “Who made God?”  Oh my!

Wow! Creationism, molecular biology, and theology all in the same conversation.  What’s next? A lesson in rocket science? 

Why yes, yes there was.  

Living so close to the space center, we are able to see live rocket launches on a fairly regular basis. We just have to walk out into our backyard to have a great view of the launch. 

Yesterday, as we watched a rocket liftoff and head into outer space, Little Monkey was in silent awe for about 30 seconds and then the questions began.  Why do rockets have fire? Are people on the rocket? Are rockets fast? On and on.  

So apparently, modern day parents need to be well versed in all of the sciences to keep up with their monkeys' questions. Maybe, I should have just told him that I was allergic to rockets and that it's all a mystery to me. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Alarm clocks are awful!  I swear every morning when mine goes off it scares me so much that I age a  year.  And if I hit snooze, when the alarm sounds again, I age another year.  Alarm clocks = bad!!!

When I was in college, there was a girl in my hall who had the MOST ANNOYING ALARM CLOCK EVER!  Every stinking week day morning that crazy clock would sound off at the crack of dawn.  It was louder than loud. Unfortunately, the owner of the clock was an extremely heavy sleeper and so the alarm would continue to blast for a loooooong time. Everyone in the hall heard it.  It was an auditory nightmare.

Do you want to hear it?

How would you like to wake up to that on a daily basis?  Wow!  Yeah!

Actually, I am curious.  How do you wake up each day? Do you prefer soft music to rouse you out of your slumber?  Maybe you need a more blatant alarm to get you going? Of course if you have kids, chances are your "wake up call" consists of a flying squat drop to your abdomen at 6 a.m..

You know I like to keep you up to date on all the latest useless information that is out there.  So, I did a little research on what's hot on the alarm clock front these days.  Here is what I found:

Have you seen the Flying Alarm Clock? This is an ER trip waiting to happen in my house.  I can see it now - the propeller thingy pops off the base, flies through the air, and lands directly in my awakening eye ball.  Nothing says "good morning" quite like a punctured cornea.

Okay, are you ready for "Clocky" The Alarm Clock On Wheels?  No?  Me either.  Next...

Do you like to multi-task?  The Dumbbell Alarm Clock makes sure that you rise and exercise all at the same time. 30 bicep curls is all that it will take to make the buzzer on this clock cease and desist.  Of course, chucking it out a two story window might do the trick too.

Does the smell of bacon in the morning make you smile?  Well, then you need the Making Bacon Alarm Clock.  What a clever device!  Now you can wake up, raise your cholesterol, and burn down your house all at the same time.  Nice!

And finally, my personal favorite alarm clock, The Phillips Mirror Finished Display Alarm Clock.  Because, the first thing that I want to see when I open my eyes in the morning is my own reflection.  Not!

Oh, and while I was doing all this clock research for you, I found out that the chicken clock that my college friend had is now a collector's item.  So, Jen Stack, if you are out there and reading this, that crazy clock of yours is now worth a mint.  And to think that I came "this close" to running over that clock with my car.



Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Become a Skinny B****H in Two Hours...

Get a haircut...



Please don't get angry at me for this post.  I couldn't resist.  Plus, as a teacher, I believe in using the correct scientific terminology to describe all of God's creatures, including our cute little female dog who had a fantastic haircut today.  Thank you, Kenya!



From Uterus to University - Mini Vans are Definitely Better Than Sports Cars

Photo credit:  Lisbet Photography
I knew our two oldest monkeys before I met their dad.  Whoa now!  Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you our story.

Seventeen years ago, I was a speech therapist working at a montessori school in downtown Orlando.  I was young and single and the teachers at the school were determined to make me a married woman.  One teacher kept trying to set me up with a guy who lived across the street from the school.  It was super awkward, and I was pretty sure that the "boy next door" just thought that I was a stalker.  The sudden appearance of the home security signs on his front lawn pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

The school director (who just so happened to be my aunt's mother) "casually" mentioned to me one day that there was this single dad whose kids attended the school and she wanted to introduce me to him.  To that request I had two words, NO and WAY.  Too much baggage for me.  After all, I was young and single, with a decent job, my own apartment, and a new sports car.  I had plans for my life and the thought of driving a mini van full of kids in the suburbs made my palms sweat and my knees weak.

Then one balmy autumn afternoon, something else made my knees weak.  As I was finishing up a therapy session with one of my clients on the playground, I looked up and noticed this really handsome guy with gorgeous green eyes looking at me.  Our eyes met for a moment, and I knew exactly who he was.  He was that single dad the school director wanted me to meet.  His stare made my palms sweat and my heart skip a beat.  Suddenly mini vans full of kids and the burbs seemed exciting.  And then as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.

Months passed.  The matchmakers settled down, a bit.  I dated my college roommate's brother (very awkward) and life was well, just status quo.  I thought a lot about "Single Dad" during those months.  I saw his kids weekly at the school.  They were ridiculously cute and smart.  The oldest was 4 and the youngest was 3. I did speech therapy with other children in both of their classes. The chubby cheeked three year old  was always curious and asked me a lot of questions about why I was there and what I was doing. The four year old was shy. He had a dimpled grin and a raspy little voice.

One morning as I arrived at work and tried desperately to avoid eye contact with "the boy next door" and his girlfriend who appeared just as suddenly as those home security signs, I noticed "Single Dad" walking to back to his car after dropping off his kids.  I knew that I had to meet him.  He was getting into his car and I was about to miss my chance!  Then suddenly, he got out of the car and carried a child's car seat back into the school.  Yes!  Thank God for child safety seats!  I stalled, he came back out, and we finally made proper introductions.  As it turns out, the forgotten car seat was just an excuse he made up so that he could meet me.  His name was Pete.

Weeks passed and our paths never seemed to cross. Then one evening my phone rang and it was Pete.  He asked me out to dinner, on his birthday.  I wish that I could remember more about that evening, but it was like a dream.  I do remember that with every word Pete spoke, I grew more and more in enamored with him.  His story was a powerful one.  He had overcome so much heartache.  He was full of faith and totally devoted to his sweet children.  As the night ended, I knew that I needed more of Pete in my life.

In the days that followed, our friendship and love for each other grew exponentially.  At the same time, I was growing more in love with his kids by the moment.  They were at such tender ages, so tiny and vulnerable. They had been blessed with their amazing dad and his love and daily care for them, but they were missing something...someone.

When Pete asked me to marry him (just 21 days after our first date) the answer was a resounding yes. I had no doubt the we were made for each other.  All of us.  We were married in May, just four months after our first date. The kids were in the wedding and they were precious.  The four year old even asked Pete to tie his shoe during the ceremony.  It was perfect.  When we exchanged our vows and I said, "I do" I was saying I do to being a wife and a mother.  We were saying yes to becoming a family, brought together in an unexpected way and completed by God.

Our love story has taught me many valuable lessons.  First, I have learned that we need to hold our life plans loosely.  Even our best thought out plans do not hold a candle to what God has in store for us.  Second, families come in many different shapes and sizes. That was a continuation of the lesson that I was taught when my parents adopted my brothers. Third, you do not have to give birth to a child to be their mom.  Although, I did not carry our two oldest children in my womb, I carried them in my heart.  I labored them with love. I did not give birth to them, but I have considered them my own flesh and blood from the moment that God brought us together. And finally, even though I loved my little sports car, I have come to realize that mini vans are definitely better than sports cars, especially when they are full of monkeys who live in the suburbs.

So friends, what about you?  Do you have a love story to tell?  What is the size and shape of your family? What surprising twists and turns have happened to your plans for your life? I always enjoy hearing from you.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

From Uterus to University - A New Edition to the Family

Starting Monday, we are proud to introduce you to a fun edition to the "This and That" family.  It's a new weekly series about the ins and outs of parenting called From Uterus to University.  We are crossing our fingers that this series will provide a lot of laughs and maybe even some helpful parenting tips.  Because let's face it, raising kids can be a lot like riding a roller coaster.  It's terrifying and thrilling all at the same time, but we wouldn't have it any other way now would we?

See you Monday!



Friday, March 15, 2013

This and That - Weekend Edition

Beautiful Himeji Castle in Himeji, Japan
Hello Weekend!  What a great feeling it is to look forward to the weekend especially after a really full week.  As I reflect back on this week, my heart is drawn to our friends in Japan.  This week marks two years since a massive earthquake and the resulting tsunami changed lives forever in Japan. So much was lost.

Out of the ashes of those dark days in Japan, there are some very beautiful transformations taking place. This week, one of our sweet friends, Sari, graduated from college.  She was asked to address her fellow students during the graduation ceremony.  We are so proud of her! She is going to be an amazing kindergarten teacher.  You go girl!
Pete had the honor of attending our friend Asuka's wedding back in September of last year.  Asuka was the very first Japanese student that we hosted almost ten years ago.  She will be a mommy this year!

Our very special friend Ayumi was married last month too!  It seems like just yesterday she was in college and playing practical jokes on us!  We love you Yumi!

Our dear friend Mutsumi has been able to visit us twice over the past two years, our time with her is always precious.  We miss you!

In these two years following the tragedy in Japan, we have heard stories and seen first-hand the power of love in action in Japan. Stories of sacrifice, perseverance, and triumph.  Stories of hope.  

As you head into your weekend, here are some links to a few of those stories.  Enjoy!

I am so touched by this gorgeous Japanese jewelry hand-made by the ladies at The Nozomi Project from shards of pottery left from the tsunami.

These men and women are the ultimate volunteers.

Powerful! Before and after pictures of Tohoku.

Two years later and CRASH is still loving on Japan.  



Thursday, March 14, 2013

That Deaf DJ

I love music and I love to dance. When I was in college at FSU, I used to live for the weekends so that I could go out dancing with my friends.  House, bass, rap, hip-hop, rock, grunge, alternative. It didn't matter what style music as long as the DJ knew how to spin it. Our favorite hangout was an awesome place called The Louvre.  I actually saw the Dave Matthews Band in concert there one spring before they were well known.  Good memories.

The art of mixing music for a live crowd has always intrigued me.  Whereas, a painter uses brushes and paints to create a visual masterpiece, a DJ works in rhythms, beats and timing to produce auditory art.

It makes sense that a DJ would need to have a sharp sense of musicality to be a master of his or her trade. Also a solid sense of hearing would be imperative or so I thought... until I read about Robbie Wilde. 

DJ/Producer Robbie Wilde, a.k.a, "That Deaf DJ" is living proof that you do not have to have picture perfect hearing to love music and make it your life's passion. DJ Robbie has been ninety percent deaf since age 11.  He literally sees and feels the music he has been creating and spinning for the better part of a decade.  DJ Robbie uses a SubPac auditory device to "feel" the music and HP's Smart Touch Sound of Touch software to "see" the music.  Audiences love his style! 

My favorite quote from DJ Robbie is, "Some things are better left unheard."  I also loved it when he said, "I don't want to be looked at as a deaf kid trying to DJ, but a great DJ who happens to be deaf."

As for me, my dance cravings are fed each week at Zumba.  Though, Pete and I did have a chance to dance in New York City when we were there last month.  We went to No.8 a fun little spot in Chelsea. Where I may or may not have danced next to Mary Kate or was it Ashley?



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Golden Rule

We are trying to raise our monkeys right.  Everyday we focus on their character development.  Pete and I try to model for them what it means to have faith, integrity, perseverance, loyalty, and compassion. We focus on being authentic in our relationships with each other.  We are not perfect parents by any means and they are not perfect kids either. I mean you have read my blog right? The bottom line is that we want for them to treat others the way they want to be treated.  It's that simple.

I love real life examples of The Golden Rule being lived out.  Or in this case, played out:

What an amazing story!  



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Community Outreach - Transforming Bithlo

Bithlo is a community just east of where we live in East Orange County.  For decades, the residents of Bithlo have shouldered multiple burdens and faced numerous injustices.  They have been challenged with environmental hazards and health issues that stem from an illegal dump that has leaked poison into their water wells.  

Underneath this vegetation is a toxic wasteland.
They have felt the desperation that comes from being isolated on the outskirts of access to healthcare and basic everyday needs like groceries because of a lack of reliable public transportation.  Residents who choose to walk or bike into town take their safety and very lives into their own hands because there is not a viable path for them to travel along the busy highway that connects Bithlo to Orlando.

Thankfully, there are people who have dedicated their lives to helping the community of Bithlo.  Volunteers, like Timothy McKinney of United Global Outreach, who sacrifices endless hours per day to make sure that the residents of Bithlo have their physical, education, emotional needs met. Tim is a modern day David slaying the Giant of Injustice that has held Bithlo in its grip for far too long.  He has rallied volunteers from all walks of life to reach out and make a difference in Bithlo.  Tim and the other volunteers know that every resident of Bithlo, from the itty-bitty infants to the grandmothers and grandfathers, are V.I.P.s and they are treated as such.  

In recent years, there have been some amazing transformations taking place in Bithlo.  Two years ago, Orange County Academy opened its doors to at-risk students in grades K-6.  The teachers and staff at OCA are top notch and their mission is to provide a first class education to their students.  They encourage each student to meet his or her full potential and focus on the family as a whole.  

Last year, Community Health Center began providing affordable healthcare to the residents of Bithlo.  Now residents can get quality health care right in their own neighborhood instead of sitting in an ER room for hours.  

Thursday nights are hopping at the Bithlo Community Center where residents can come have a spaghetti dinner and enjoy each other's company.  The community dinner is run completely by volunteers who show up weekly with a smile and a heart to serve. 

There are other exciting transformations on the horizon for Bithlo.  Transformation Village, in it's infancy stages, will offer a library, laundromat, hair salon, coffee shop, and an even tighter sense of community to Bithlo. 

As Timothy Mckinney says, "You can't have transformation until you have inspiration."  So let me ask you friends, do you feel inspired?  Perhaps there is a need in your own community that you can meet.  

If you live in my neck of the woods and you want to be a part of the transformation that is happening in Bithlo, please leave me a message here on the blog or on Facebook.  I would be delighted to get you in touch with the right people.  



P.S.  The Bithlo Community Center meal volunteers are always looking for people to join them on Thursday evenings. Let me know if you are interested in serving the awesome people of Bithlo. 

If a Picture Could Speak a Thousand Words...

What would this one say?  In maybe just one or two words?

Please keep in mind that this picture was taken after this picture.

Which is somehow terrifying and hysterical all at the same time.

I just thought that you might need something to kick start your day.  You know, something to get those creative juices flowing.



Monday, March 11, 2013

My Thighs Just Fell Off!

Well, not really, but they feel like they are going to fall off any minute.  Why? You might ask.  Why would my thighs fall off?  Well, let me tell you a little story.

On Saturday, three full days ago, I participated in an innocent looking little workout.  Just 27 minutes of stretches, squats and push ups.  No biggy really.  I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I do workout on a very regular basis.  I do Zumba classes and lift weights three nights a week.  I also chase a few monkeys around everyday, so I am no stranger to regular exercise and exertion and exhaustion and desperation...sorry I'm not sure why I ramble so. It's a disease.

Okay, so this new exercise routine is isometric.  You use your own body weight as resistance  And really, how hard could it be to workout using my own body weight?  Wait.  If you see me on a regular basis, please do not answer that question.

In all seriousness, the workout was excellent.  It was tough but doable.  Although, I did have to stop after 15 minutes because I was worn out.  But, I can totally see working up to that full 27 minutes by the end of the year week. If you want to learn more about the type of workout that I am currently trying to love, please check out Physique 57.  They offer in studio classes, online classes, DVD's and a book.  Here is a link to Physique 57's Facebook Page and a video that tells how Physique 57 started:

The best part about the workout, was that I could do it at home.  That was a huge bonus because I could workout in my pajamas (which saves on laundry) and also provide entertainment for my family.  Multi-tasking rocks! Our oldest daughter even joined me in the workout.  Her thighs however, did not fall off.



And the Winner Is...

Hi Friends!  I am so excited to announce that Penny is the winner of a lovely initial pendant necklace from Designs by Tahra!

Hurray Penny!  Please email me at so we can get that gorgeous necklace to you.

Thank you Tahra! I just placed an order at your lovely store.  Can't wait to see the finished product!



Friday, March 8, 2013

Hello Weekend!

Vintage photos of our trip to Abaco years ago.
Welcome to the weekend friends!  I am beyond thrilled that it is Friday.  Pete has been gone on business this week and I am so, so ready to have him home.  Whenever he is out of town, anything and everything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Last night, I locked myself out of the house.  Nice!  Oh, and the brakes on the back right side of our van that were squeaking, are now screaming.  Hurry home dear!  

So, what are your plans for the weekend?  Are you ready to spring forward on Sunday?  It's always nice to lose an hour of sleep and walk around in a state of confusion as your body adjusts to the new time for about a week, isn't it?  Actually, I love that it will stay light outside later, even if it does make it more difficult to get the monkeys in bed at a decent time. Somehow, it just seems wrong to put the littlest ones in bed when it's still light outside at 8:30 PM.  I guess that's what we get for living so close to the equator.  Ah, Florida!

So, have a great weekend and all.  If you're bored and looking for something to do, there are some links below to some extra-curricular reading for you. Or you could always come over and fix the brakes on our van.  Toodles!

With spring break upon us, many people are flocking to Florida to soak up the sun and do other touristy stuff.  If you are planning on visiting the Everglades, you may want to think twice or thrice

The Florida Keys are lovely at this time of year, just watch out for the giant rodents (and I am not referring to Mickey).

Better yet, maybe you should just play it safe this spring break and visit the World Chess Hall of Fame in Miami, Florida.  That sounds like a happening time!

Don't forget the awesome giveaway that is going on through Monday!



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kids Are The Funniest Humans

Our oldest monkey and his cousin from way, way long ago. 
Really they are. They say and do the most hilarious stuff.

When I was studying to be a speech therapist, I used to have to record and transcribe kids' speech samples.  A lot of the time, I would have to rewind the tape to listen again because I had been laughing so hard that I missed something.  Some of those little people had a lot of funny things to say about life.

Throughout the years, the kids in our family have said some funnies.  Like the time when our oldest monkey told Pete that he had a "frope" (a sore throat).  Or the time when our six year old nephew told me that having a baby was like having laser beams shot through your eyes.  He was right! Middle monkey boy called the Green Bay Packers the "Green Crackers".  He also told us that he, "Slept like a hog" when he woke up one morning. Oh and, one of my personal favorites is a quote from our youngest monkey girl, "Love is an operation. It's a temptation thingy."  Don't ask me where she got that or what it even means.

Middle Monkey clowning around.
Lately, Little Monkey has been in rare form.  The kid cracks us up!  Last week, he told me that I look just like Steve from Blue's Clues because I have big brown eyes.  Then he asked me if he could touch my eyebrows.

Yesterday, as we were driving he seemed very worried and he asked me if the road was okay.  I was confused by his question, but I thought that he had felt a bump or something. Then he asked me if it hurts the road when cars drive on it.  Too funny!

What he said tonight still has me laughing.  We were cuddling in bed, reading some books when he got a very concerned look on his face.  He pointed at my underarm (which I have not shaved in a few days, sorry TMI) and said, "What happened to you?" He was very stressed out that I had hair under my arms.   He looked at his own underarms, then back at mine. Then after a few minutes, he got a sheepish grin on his face and asked, "Can I touch your gross hairy arms?" Boy, I sure am glad that he didn't see my legs because that may have totally freaked him out.