Category Archives: Beach

O is for Opi

At the beginning of November my dad flew in for a visit.  As a special treat we let Ben stay up late to go to the airport with me to pick him up. Ben was beside himself as he waited for Opi to come down that escalator.  He made sure to hold up the sign the entire time we waited.  Are you wondering about that cute little pumpkin he has for a sidekick?  That’s Fluff.  Yes, Fluff.  Ben picked him out at the pumpkin patch, named him Fluff and they were best buddies until, well, you know.  Fluff slept with Ben (the rule was he had to stay on the nightstand), Fluff rode everywhere in the car with us…he even went grocery shopping a time or two.

We got our man…that’s Opi!


The next morning Opi, Ben, Jude and I were off to visit the Central Florida Zoo.  

A ride on the Little Florida Coast Line Train is always one of the highlights of any zoo visit.  

Another highlight…a ride on the Animal Carousel!

We made our way around the zoo visiting some of our favorite animals like the monkeys, cheetahs, elephant, alligator and snakes.  We also had a brief encounter with this strange little creature.  I can’t remember his name, but the zoo worker had him out so that people could pet him.  Jude thought he was pretty cool.  Ben on the other hand wasn’t at all interested in getting close to this little creature much less pet him.  Of course Opi wasn’t scared either, but I was right there with Ben.  It took a lot of courage for me to pet this guy!!


That evening our babysitter came over to watch the boys while we took Dad out for a special treat (well, really he treated us, but we picked the restaurant)!  Thanks, Dad!!  =)

The restaurant:  Hollerbach’s Willow Tree CafeThe food:  German.  The entertainment:  Two guys singing German songs in German.  The experience:  German Gemuetlichkeit. Gemuetlichkeit is a sense of well-being and happiness that comes from enjoying the company of friends and family while savoring good food and drink.


I’m pretty sure this was one of the most fun dining experiences I’ve had.  The atmosphere in this place is amazing.  It was crowded.  This place is always crowded.  And loud.  Oh yes, we sang and we even did the chicken dance.  And for those of you that know my side of the family, the chicken dance is a big deal.  It is a family tradition…learning how to do the chicken dance was a rite of passage growing up. 

We started with the sausage sampler.  (As you can see we dug right in before I thought to take a picture.  The pictures really don’t do it justice…this food is sooooooo good!)

Next up, schnitzel.  We all had different types of schnitzel and they were all equally good.  I had the Schnitzel Champignon Art, Sauerkraut and Kase Spatzel.  Is your mouth watering yet?


If all that wasn’t enough (and it was…we took a lot to go) we had dessert.  In our defense we were sitting right next to the dessert display.  We’d been staring at it all night.  Just writing this post makes me hungry…anyone up for some German food?


The next morning we traveled to New Symrna Beach for the day.

While most of the country was freezing we were enjoying a gorgeous (yet very windy) day at the beach.

Jude dipped his little toes into the ocean for the first time.  He loved it!

Ben played in the sand with his trucks and worked on a sandcastle with Jake.  (Anytime they’d make a little progress on the sandcastle Ben would bulldoze it down…hence, no picture of a sandcastle.)

We ended a perfectly perfect day with lunch by the boardwalk.  Thanks for a fun visit, Opi!  We love you!


Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Jude, Orlando

My Birthday at the Beach

I turned 31 on August 14th (yes, I am officially a 30 something)!!  My birthday request was to spend some time squishing my toes in the sand at the beach and that’s just what we did.  Jake and I spent last Saturday and Sunday at a beautiful place on Daytona Beach called The Shores Resort and Spa.  Our friend Nichole works at the resort and she hooked us up with a discounted room rate and some other free stuff…it was so wonderful!!  Thank you, Nichole!!  

This was also our first overnight trip without our sweet Ben.  We are so blessed to have found an amazing babysitter, Amanda, through our church.  She is simply wonderful and such a blessing to us.  It is so evident to see how much she loves Ben and in turn it gives us a very good feeling to leave him in her very capable hands.  But, oh, how we missed him!  Anytime we saw a little boy Ben’s age playing on the beach I so badly wanted to call up Amanda and have them come and meet us.  It was so fun to come home and see him though.  Amanda said he was great and he seemed so happy to see us.  He walked up with a big smile and greeted us both with big kisses.  It melted my heart…it always does!!  

We were already hungry when we arrived and got reservations at the hotel restaurant Azure right at 5:30pm.  We pretty much had the entire restaurant to ourselves which was quite nice.  Our table overlooked the patio, pool and beach.  A couple had just gotten married on the beach and they were having their dinner reception out on the patio in front of us.  It was so fun to watch all of the excitement!  And the meal was delicious!











Here’s the view of our hotel from the beach, the view of the beach from our room and the view of the intracoastal waterway from our room!  Gorgeous!!























After dinner we went for a romantic stroll along the beach and watched the sunset.  Here we are laughing hysterically (you know the kind like when you were a kid trying not to laugh in church but the more you tried not to laugh the worse it made it and the worse the stares got from your parents…that kind of laugh) while trying to snap our own picture on the beach.  Ahh, much better!
















Does anyone remember that episode of Friends when they all go to some tropical location and Monica’s hair gets bigger and bigGER and BIGGER the entire show.  Yep, that was my hair after our walk on the beach.  BIG!!









We woke up on Sunday morning to a yummy breakfast in bed.  I’m pretty sure I said, “ah, it’s so nice to not do dishes” about a million times that weekend.  It was such a luxury!!  So after our breakfast in bed we headed down to the beach early Sunday morning to soak up some sun.  It was already quite warm so we spent more time letting the waves crash against our legs than we did laying out on the beach.  When we were relaxing on the beach it was under the shade of an umbrella.  Long gone are the days of laying out in the sun with baby oil.  Oh yes, I know, horrible isn’t it?!?  I remember laying out by the pool in my younger years using baby oil because it was supposed to make your tan much darker.  Please, do not try this at home.  Much darker…a.k.a…much redder….think…lobster.  Not pleasant.


















It is amazing how a little time away can make you feel so revived and energized!  It was a great birthday!  And the gifts, cards, calls, e-mails and other birthday messages I received…thanks everyone for making me feel so loved on my special day!  I hope that you were blessed even more in return!


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Filed under Beach, Birthdays, Travel

Fun in the Sun

I’m finally getting around to posting an update about our family vacation to St. Augustine at the beginning of May.  I can assure you it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.  Our computer has been on again and off again and on again and (oh,yes) off again.  So in light of our current off again status I decided to move everything over to the laptop for now until we can figure out what’s going on.  Technology is certainly a marvelous thing, but it sure can give me a gigantic headache too!!  About that vacation…

We spent most of the morning on Sunday packing up the 4Runner.  I wasn’t kidding when I said we packed pretty much everything but the kitchen sink (and yes…we still had room for Ben!)!









Ben stayed quite busy for most of the trip with a little light readingIMG_6937!









Jake, Ben and I were the first to arrive.  We immediately went to explore our fantastic beach house.  It was a 4 bed/4 bath home with 3 living spaces including a nice big flat screen TV, a pool table, darts and a Foosball table.  From the second story patio we had an amazing view of the pool,  hot tub and Matanzas River (part of the Intracoastal Waterway)!  We got to see beautiful sunsets every evening from the comfort of our back patio!!









After being told their flight was cancelled, then re-routed, followed by a total of a four hour delay…Tim, Candice, Laci and Randy finally arrived!!  Dad and Linda made it in later that evening (they took a few extra days to do some sightseeing on their drive down) and David arrived the following day!!  This pic was taken on the cute little dock outside the beach house overlooking the river.  While standing on the dock we even got to see graceful dolphins frolicking in the water! (Do dolphins frolic?  I was curious about what to call it when the dolphins do their little jumps out of the water so I googled it and found that it is really called breaching…and now you know…you’re welcome!!)IMG_6948







The guys were up and at ’em by about 5:15 am each morning.   “Our Players” divided up their time during the day between playing golf and watching “The Players” at Sawgrass.  (Sorry no pics of the tournament…no cameras or cell phones were allowed).  They played at St. Johns Golf and Country Club, South Hamptonthe Legends and Champions Courses at LPGA International…yes, they actually played both of them on the same day!  That’s 36 holes of golf…they were worn out!!  I’ve been sworn to secrecy regarding their golf scores, but if anyone REALLY wants to know please send a request via mail along with large sums of money (small unmarked bills only).


And the littlest “player” of all practicing his golf swing!!










A typical day for the ladies…after eating breakfast we’d head downstairs for a dip in the cool pool.  It was so nice!!  We’d swim for a while, then watch the magnificent boats sail by while eating snacks followed by playing some more.  Ben was always ready for a nice  l o n g  afternoon nap!  IMG_7140















After the guys returned home each day we had lots of fun playing HIGHLY COMPETITIVE games of pool and water volleyball (think:  The Water Volleyball Scene in Meet the Parents)!



Ben loved playing (more like pounding) on the piano with Omi!










We tried out some of the local cuisine at places like Salt-Water Cowboys and South Beach Grill, but of all the meals we enjoyed together my favorite was the night we had our very own shrimp boil.  It was so yummy!!  Plus we sat out on the upstairs patio and watched the sun set while we ate.  Delicious food, great company, beautiful view!









Of course we made time to hang out and walk on the beach a few times.  The beaches were absolutely beautiful.  The sand felt like powder under our feet and it wasn’t very crowded either so we had plenty of room to play and walk along the shore.
































We spent one evening touring up and down the cobblestone streets of downtown St. Augustine.   


Here we are standing in front of the beautiful Matanzas Bay.









Castillo de San Marcos









We stopped in at the Crucial Coffee Cafe on Cuna Street for an assortment of coffee drinks and then quickly made our way down St. George Street to the fudge shop!!IMG_7071









As the saying goes…all good things must come to an end.  It was an end to a truly wonderful week!!  Here we are feeling all refreshed and relaxed on our last morning of vacation. 









Ben did this for the entire trip home…still holding on to his little Hot Wheels car!!



Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Orlando, Travel

Family Vacation – St. Augustine

We are leaving tomorrow afternoon for St. Augustine.  I guess you could call this our first “official” family vacation since Ben was born.  We’re super excited!  We rented a house on the beach (okay, we opted for a house with a private pool and in order to do so we gave up beach front property…it’s across the street within walking distance though!)!  We’re meeting up with my brother Tim and his wife Candice and Baby Laci, my brother-in-law David (we’ll miss you Jill…Khloee is still in school so they couldn’t make the trip), my dad and stepmom Linda and Candice’s dad Randy. 

Truth be told this trip was originally planned for just the guys.  The PGA tour is making a stop in Ponte Vedra (just up the road from St. Augustine) for the TPC Sawgrass and the guys want to go and watch players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Sergio Garcia (to name a few) and of course play lots of golf themselves.  So we, the ladies, decided to tag along to soak up the sun and to do a little shopping at the outlet malls nearby.  Jake made sure to cash in on his private golf lessons over the last several weeks, plus he’s managed to squeeze in some time at the driving range AND he’s even been practicing his swing in the front yard.  Apparently golf is serious business.  I don’t know that much about golf, but a couple of things I know are true…ONE.  When I play golf I usually cannot make contact with the ball (it is EXTREMELY embarrassing…that’s why I really don’t “play” per se…I ride along in the golf cart and when all golfers and I mean ALL golfers are out of sight I jump out of the cart and take a swing).  TWO.  Driving a golf cart is super fun!!      

I’m pretty sure we’ve packed all but the kitchen sink for our trip.  Since we’re driving (it’s only about an hour and a half from our house) we’ve been tasked with bringing things that the others don’t have room for in their suitcases.  Beach stuff, food stuff, baby stuff…you name it, you can probably find it packed in the 4Runner.  All I know is that I CANNOT WAIT to feel the sand between my toes, hear the crash of the waves against the shore and lounge by the pool for the next nine days.  Ahh!  Can you feel the relaxation oozing out of your computer screen!!

P.S.  Turns out one of the memory sticks on our computer had gone bad…not the hard drive.  Thankfully it is one of the easiest and cheapest things to fix.  We ordered a new one at the end of last week and it should be waiting on us when we return from vacation!  Wahoo!!  New pics and videos coming your way soon!!

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Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Orlando, Travel

11 Months



I know, it’s crazy…11 months (and two weeks to be exact, but who’s counting)!  It seems like lately each time I look at Ben I say, “Wow, you look so BIG!!”  For example, it was a mere few weeks ago that Ben could stand up under the table without hitting his head, and now he’s too tall.  In honor of 11 months, I picked 11 things Ben LOVES to do right now.  Here’s what our little guy has been up to…he has been BUSY!!

Playing at the beach.  Click here to see him having fun in the sand.  On this particular day it was super cold and windy, but Ben didn’t seem to mind.  He cried when it was time to leave.








Playing with Dakota.  Ben enjoys using Dakota as an obstacle to crawl over as seen here.  He also can’t wait to get outside each day to play in the grass and throw the ball to Dakota.  Ben will often cry if Dakota gets to go outside and he doesn’t.  He is also learning the concept of fetch.  Often times we’ll throw the ball, but Dakota doesn’t fetch (after all he isn’t a Retriever) so Ben will go get it for him and hold it out for Dakota to grab.  Sometimes Dakota will take the ball from Ben and when he doesn’t give it back, Ben will burst into tears.  He just can’t understand why Dakota won’t share.










Playing with his bouncy ball each morning.  It is so fun to watch him learn what words and phrases mean.  We can tell him to “find the ball” and he’ll go searching around the room until he finds it.

Sounding out the noise that a horse makes.  Jake and my dad both LOVE to tell/show Ben the sound that a horse makes.  They both make a neighing sound followed by the razzing of their lips and shaking of their heads so that their checks ripple.  One day I asked Ben what a horse says and he did this:

Playing in his room.  One afternoon I heard the pitter patter of Ben crawling down the hallway from the living room/playroom to his bedroom.  I waited for a second and then followed behind to see what he was up to.  As shown in the clip below, he wedged himself between the crib and chair and then dug through his basket of books.  I’m glad he seems to like his room (and books) so much!

Eating spinach lasagna, chicken, cottage cheese, grilled cheese, bananas, peaches, yogurt, Cheerios and black beans (not all together).  He is also more than willing to offer us a drink from his sippy cup and tries to feed us his food.  He has started clapping after we say “Amen” when we pray before each meal too.  We are in the process of teaching him how to say “all done” in sign language when he’s finished eating meals.

Saying “dog” and “bath”.  Dog often sounds like “d” and bath like “b-th.”  We have a little chant we use when it’s bath time.  It goes a little sumin’ like this, “B-A-T-H…Bath, Bath, Bath”.  I stole that from the Jets.  Jake and I went to see the Jaguars play the Jets about a year ago in Jacksonville.  As luck would have it, we had the privledge of sitting behind what I believe was the most obnoxious Jets fan in the entire stadium.  I am pretty sure I heard the chant, J-E-T-S…Jets, Jets, Jets about a million and one times.  Since then, it has been a little number I can’t seem to forget.  When Ben hears the water begin to run he will often perk up and start crawling toward the bathroom.  

Pushing toys in circles…around the island, around the couch, and around the wall in the living room.  Plus, he loves to knock down really tall towers in one single blow!

Doing his version of a happy dance.  This involves turning his head really fast from side to side with a really big grin on his face!  This video was taken after his bath one night.  We’re not kidding when we say there is something about taking a bath that makes this kid hyper!

Laughing.  Laughing when he’s being tickled and often just laughing because we’re laughing.

Waving “goodbye” to dada from the front porch each morning as he leaves for work.  I saved this one for last because it is one of my favorite things we do right now.  When Jake tells us goodbye in the morning Ben will start waving immediately.  Jake goes through the garage and we head out the front door to watch from the porch.  We wave from the time Jake gets into the 4Runner until he drives out of sight.  It is very sweet!


Filed under Beach, Ben, Dakota, Orlando

Happy 4th Anniversary, Honey!


Filed under Anniversary, Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Orlando, Travel

A Day At The Beach

Greetings!  First and foremost let me welcome you to our site!  I’ve been talking about starting a blog for months now and it’s finally up and running.  Whew!  Sometimes getting started is the hardest part! 

After church today, Jake and I decided it was time to take Ben on his first trip to the beach!  We loaded up the car and headed to New Smyrna.  Ben was quite the little trooper by snoozing most of the way there.  After several minutes on the road I realized that I had failed to pack his hat.  So after a stop by the only store on the way to the beach we were back on the road with the hat in tow.  After a quick application of sunscreen we were set to walk along the beach and take some pictures.  I think Ben really enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.  However, he wasn’t into the bright sun so much.  After about 30 minutes the little guy was getting cranky.  So we packed everything back up and we were on the road headed home.  Our ride home was quite peaceful until Ben decided to start crying at the top of his lungs for the last 20 minutes of the drive.  The poor guy was tired and hungry!  The good news…he is sleeping peacefully now!     


Filed under Beach, Ben, Orlando