Family Time

Paige came home last Friday and we had such a great weekend, spending some much needed family time together! Paige caught up on her sleep, ate some good food, and she and I had some mom/daughter bonding over shopping (as one does💁🏻). 


Saturday evening we all had an escape from all the awful, terribleness in the news every day (or so it seems) and went the WellRed Comedy Tour, which was hilarious and just what we all needed. 


The rest of the weekend seemed to speed up and go faster and faster as the time came for Paige to have to head back to school, but was mostly spent walking on the beach, or just hanging out, talking and just catching up. It was a fantastic weekend but we’re going to miss the munchkin until we see her again over spring break!

It was nice to see a bit of Clay this weekend too – he’s usually in class, or at work or in the library. Lucky us… both kids were around this weekend! 😊


This is what I usually see of the kids…Snapchat pictures they send to me to let me know where they are…

Every day….

The past few weeks have been, well…interesting. Exhausting, actually. I’ve been taking some classes at Flagler College- a French class and a class on Putin and post communist Russia (how timely is that class, hmm?🤔) which keeps me busy. Clay has been busy with school and his girlfriend, and Paige has been working hard at school and is getting involved with a few more activities at school (more on that soon.)


Mostly though, what’s been so…exhausting…is just, everything else. Turning on the news. Or going online. Reading the New York Times or the Washington Post or Newsweek or The Atlantic or listening to NPR. My point is that anywhere you look, or listen…you cannot escape it. Everyday it’s another scandal. Everyday it’s another crisis. Another violation. (Not trying to get political here; just trying to explain how we’re feeling- alarmed, and exhausted.)

We’d love to get through just one day in peace – just one 24 hour period without a scandal or crisis – but that doesn’t appear likely. Anyway, it certainly hasn’t happened in the past 27 days. There’s not much we can do about all the crazy going on in Washington D.C. right now and that’s frustrating. So we walk. 


We’ve been doing a lot of walking. It basically has been keeping us sane. 

2017, Already

January, already. And well into it, no less. 

Once again, I’ve been remiss about blogging. 

I’d say that we’ve been busy…and I suppose we have. The kids were home for their Christmas break, and as always, it seemed to go much too fast. We tried to squeeze in all the doctor and dentist appointments we’d been putting off, along with a trip to North Carolina to visit my mom for Christmas. Which was nice and relaxing, and we did a lot of this….



Unfortunately, the time passed much too quickly and before we knew it we were saying goodbye to Paige and both kids were back in school. 


But… I’M taking some classes at Flagler this semester too! Flagler offers some “lifetime learning” classes for the community, which I’ve wanted to take in the past but never managed to sign up for in time. This time  I did, and I’m taking a French class (from a darling French lady 🇫🇷) and a very intriguing (and timely! 🤔) class on Putin and Post Communist Russia taught by an ex-CIA operative. I’m quite excited about trying something new!


A bientôt ~

After The Storm


(Photo credit for several of the photos above goes to Clay and his girlfriend, Devon)

Tim and I finally went for a walk on the beach today. It’s not so easy to do now. We had to drive around for a while until we finally found a beach access that was open (most are closed due to damage). We saw lots of damaged or condemned homes. We saw a few that had already begun restoration. We saw lots and lots of debris. Huge logs and boards were in the surf still. There were a lot of shells, and shark’s teeth, and foam. We saw a huge, dead horseshoe crab. 

Mostly, though, we just observed activity. Roofs being repaired. Debris being cleared. Birds looking for food. Waves crashing, the wind blowing, the tide turning. 



Hurricane Matthew

This time last week we were keeping an eye on the weather and watching all the forecast tracks and “cone of concern” for Hurricane Matthew. At first, it didn’t look too bad….and then some of the models, particularly the more reliable European model, had the storm coming right up the coast of Florida- and right over St. Augustine. 


By Wednesday evening we knew we were under a mandatory evacuation order. We left our home Thursday around noon. At that time, we were expecting a Catagory 4 storm, with wind gusts over 100 mph, and a catastrophic storm surge. 


We left our house not knowing if our home would be flooded, but from the forecasts at the time we expected it. I managed to pack a few, very few, memories in plastic bins to bring with us – stuff the kids had made when they were younger (a ceramic armadillo, impressions of the kid’s baby hands, a cross) my grandmother’s pie plates, my great-grandmother’s China, some pictures. Not enough…but a few things. I walked out of our home not knowing if anything would be left when we returned. That’s a weird feeling- walking away from everything you own and wondering if you’ll ever see it again. 


We stopped by the beach on our way out and watched the waves pounding the shore, the wind whipping salt and sand everywhere, and the dunes – hours before Matthew hit – already being eaten away by the surf.


We spent the next few days ensconced in a hotel on the west side of Jacksonville- about 45 miles away. We were safe, and comfortable- we only lost power in the hotel for about an hour Friday evening. We watched news updates on the storm. We saw the pictures of the storm surge flooding the streets of Jacksonville Beach and beautiful, historic Saint Augustine. What we didn’t see, and what made me increasingly nervous, was anything about Vilano Beach. 


And then, finally, reports and images began to come in from Vilano Beach. 


Debris along A1A and the parking lot of a favorite restaurant a couple of miles from our house. 

Vilano Beach, the reporters stated, was one of the hardest hit areas. There were very few photos coming in as no one was allowed back on the island until the bridges were inspected, and then the National Guard had to clear debris,and then buildings needed to be inspected for anyone needing assistance…and for safety. 

Meanwhile, we worried. 

Finally, the bridges were opened. We headed home. 


As we got closer to our neighborhood, we began seeing the marks on the houses. 


And then we got home. There was debris in the streets of our neighborhood and in the yards. But…the houses appeared undamaged for the most part. A few shingles loose here and there, some broken screens, a few trees down. Our house was fine! Absolutely fine! It looked exactly the way we left it. Miraculously, we only lost power in the neighborhood for about 20 minutes, so we didn’t even have to clean our refrigerator and freezer of rotten food! The neighborhood’s beach access and pavilion were destroyed, however, and some of the marshfront houses did have some flooding from the surge. 


Our electricity is on. We have running water. Our biggest problem is no cable or internet- and, really, that’s such a first world problem. We are certainly not complaining, especially considering what others are having to deal with…

Before/after of condemned houses on Vilano Beach 


The moat at Castillo de San Marcos (the fort) is filled again. 

Thank God the storm weakened a bit before it got here and it took a last minute wobble to the east. Matthew came to our little barrier island as a Category 3, not a 4. We had a 5-6 foot storm surge, not 9-12 feet. As bad as things were and still are for so many…it could have been so much worse. 

Thanks to everyone who thought about us, prayed for us, and checked in on us. We are still in shock that our home and all our belongings are okay. We’re incredibly grateful. And we’re incredibly humbled by the power of Mother Nature. 


Homecoming 

Linda got to experience an American high school homecoming this week. She liked it a lot but thought it was funny and very different from Italy!
Monday was “dynamic duo” day and Linda created two amazing monster tshirts for her and her friend to wear. (I had no idea she was so artistic!)


Tuesday was “tacky tourist” day….


Wednesday was “spirit” day (no photo) and Thursday was “decade” day. Linda chose the 1920’s as her decade…


Friday night was the game (they won 56-0) and Saturday was the Honecoming Dance…


She had a lot fun!