Things To Do in St. Augustine 

We live about 30 minutes from one of Florida’s best little cities and we like to visit as often as we can. In fact, two years ago we had made it a point to visit monthly calling it St. Augustine in 2014. Here are a few ideas of what to see and do when checking out St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US. (Check out the great outfits I’m wearing! Chico’s supplied me with the pieces but I love them all on my own! Details at the bottom.)Where to stay, eat, and drink

Where to Stay

If you want to go for a splurge then I recommend the Casa Monica hotel. Taylor Engineering’s Founder’s Day Ball (which just so happened to coincide with St. Augustine in 2014) was held in this beautiful, historical hotel two years ago. It is a popular place for weddings!

A very romantic city, St. Augustine has many quaint bed and breakfast inns to choose from. We stayed At Journey’s End because it received great reviews, is in walking distance from the main square and the Casa Monica Hotel, the site of the ball.At Journey's EndJourney's End porch

Another favorite of ours is the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. We had wanted to stay at this hotel overlooking the bay and the Bridge of Lions so one day Michael surprised me by pulling in after a day of hanging out at the beach. He had packed my suitcase and had it hidden in the back of the car. That evening we tried out several new-to-us places. (Check out Where to Eat and Drink). The inside is so very Spanish with dark wood and majolica tile.Hilton

Hilton fireplace

Where to Eat

There are so many places to recommend and we are still finding new places! Below is a short list of some of our favorites.

La Pentola – fine Italian dining. I hardly EVER eat at Italian Restaurants but I liked this place.

The Columbia – Spanish/Cuban cuisine in a beautiful location.

Cellar 6 – Bistro-type wine bar. You can sit outside at one of the road-side tables and watch the people go by. Feels like you are on a small street in Spain!

O.C. White’s – We love the outdoor seating in this centrally located restaurant!

Pizza Alley – Some of the best pizza in St. Augustine, located right on St. George Street!

The Conch House – Located on Anastasia Island, across the Bridge of Lions. Caribbean inspired cuisine. We like to grab a tiki hut and eat outside overlooking the marina. My kids first tried gator here!

If you have time, try out Villano Beach which is on the north side of the inlet. Our favorite over there is Cap’s on the Water  but Michael likes Aunt Kate’s too.

Where to Drink

Some of our favorite places in St. Augustine are where you can grab a great drink!

The Ice Plant ice plant truckProbably one of my favorite drink places in St. Augustine, the Ice Plant is housed in an old plant where they would make the ice for the shrimp boats when they would come in with their catch. They have completely restored it with period items.

ice plant stairs

All their cocktails are handcrafted and EVERYTHING is made from scratch – even the ketchup!

ice plant ownerWe just happened to run into Michael Macklemore, the owner, Patricia’s, father. He showed us around a little bit. This is the liquor cage. Pretty cool!

ice plant bar

And upstairs is the bar area. The bartenders and waitstaff dress in period costumes. The place has a speakeasy sort of feel to it.

JP Henley’s – We last came here for a work-related social and had a few beers. The dark interior feels more like a clubhouse to me.

The Prince of Wales British Pub – This place is so picturesque! I love the look and feel of the place. Pretty authentic food and beer!

Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille – Although this is also a restaurant, we’ve only been here for drinks. And boy were they good! There’s outside, shady seating!

Cellar 6 – Wine, cocktails. You name it.

San Sebastian Winery – The winery is up the road from the Ice Plant. They have a large upstairs terrace where you can have a glass of wine and see the view of downtown. Especially fun at Christmas time when all the lights are on!

What to Do

If you have never visited St Augustine, it’s a good idea to take a tour of some kind. There are many to choose from: walking, trolley, Segway (read about our experience here!), carriage ride, The Tasting Tours, Graveyard or Ghost Tour. This will help you get the lay of the land and provide you with informative history. Over the years we have done several different kinds. Red Train ToursOur latest tour was the Vino and Victuals tour with the Tasting Tours. We visited 4 different locations, sampled different food and wines and had a blast with the other visitors in our own horse drawn wagon.The Tasting Tours 2

A visit to the Castillo de San Marcos fort is a must. It’s really fun to visit when the re-enactors are shooting off the cannons. Castillo

Check out the visitor’s center for art exhibits. We saw American Masters who were coming down to St. Augustine to paint and I know they had a Picasso exhibit as part of the 450 Anniversary but unfortunately we missed that one!

Across the Bridge of Lions is Anastasia Island which has the beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse that is worth a climb to see the views of downtown and the inlet. Another fun thing to do on the island is visit the Alligator Farm. We have even ziplined over all the reptiles!

Bridge of Lions

The Lightner Museum is housed in one of Henry Flagler’s hotels. It’s such a cool building with a cafe’ located where the indoor pool used to be!Lightner Museum

Flagler College was also a Henry Flagler hotel. You can take a tour of this beautiful college campus. Flagler college

Flagler courtyard

Explore the side streets, not just St. George Street. The houses are so pretty and you’ll find hidden gardens and fountains!cobblestone streets

gardensNow let’s chat a bit about the great outfits I’m wearing. Chico’s provided me with the pieces but the opinions are all my own. Here’s what I’m wearing:

So Slimming Petite Girlfriend Alabaster Ankle Jeans – I love that the petite size is PERFECT on me! I didn’t have to roll or hem these pants. The material is super soft and a perfect weight. Heavy enough to not be see-through but light enough to wear in summer. I also like that the rise is a bit higher than some of my other jeans but they are not high-waisted.!

Petite Double Layer Tank in Majestic Blue – I love this tank! I really, really do! It’s super lightweight but again, not see-through. I don’t have to wear a cami under it! I think the length is perfect. Very flattering. I also love that I can wear a regular bra under it without any peekaboo going on! It’s perfect on its own or layered under the jacket.

Geometric Bi-Color Jacket – Although the days are really hot here (it was 97 degrees with high humidity on the 4th of July!), the air conditioning is set really low so I often bring a sweater or a jacket if I’m going to be inside a building for any amount of time. This jacket is perfect for layering *and* making a bold statement!

Classic Petite Rosemary Dress – This dress is part of the Travelers Line which means that it doesn’t wrinkle! The ruching is quite forgiving. This dress can easily be dressed up or down, making it a very versatile piece when traveling.

Petite Bayleigh Fringed Pullover – This is my favorite piece. I love the color and how unique it looks. It’s like a poncho and tank all rolled into one and it’s also a cold shoulder piece (my first!). It’s knit, like a sweater, but it’s so loosely knit that it breathes and keeps you cool. I wore this when we went on a horse-drawn Vino and Victuals tour. It was hot, but I stayed cool and collected.

Willow Collar Necklace – The links of this necklace are made to look like pieces of bamboo. It has a nice heft to it. I like how the polished silver adds a little extra something to whatever you wear it with. As you see, I’ve styled it with all three outfits and it looks great with each!

I confess that I had never shopped at Chico’s before. I “met” them at the B@M Conference I attended and was so pleased to do a collaboration with this brand! Since then I have learned a few things about this clothing company.

  1. They have regular *and* petite sizes. I love it when I can find petite sizes! They just fit me better! (I’m 5’1″)
  2. They have different collections such as the Traveler’s Collection which keeps you wrinkle-free while you travel and the Black Label Collection which has chic black and white pieces.
  3. I like that many of their models are not in their teens or twenties. That speaks to me because, hey, I’m not in my teens or twenties either!
  4. They have bold, modern pieces – from clothing, to bathing suits, to jewelry. I encourage you to check them out!

Summer Reading

If you are visiting from Joy’s blog, welcome!

summer reading graphicOne of the things I love most about summer is having more time to read, and even though I have to read school stuff (we homeschool with a literature-based curriculum), I squeeze in “fun” reading (although most reading we do for school is fun reading in my opinion!). I had been reading a lot of non-fiction, so for me fun reading this summer is Fiction.

I admit that I don’t have an official “These Are The Books I Am Going To Read This Summer” list. But I do have a Goodreads list. (Are you on Goodreads? Want to be friends?) My to-read list currently has 39 books on it although that is not a completely accurate list of books I want to read because there are books that I already own but still haven’t read yet that I also want to read. They just didn’t make the Goodreads list yet. Mostly I use that list to catalog books I don’t want to forget about that I have heard about elsewhere such as from Modern Mrs. Darcy – either her Summer Reading Guide or her excellent podcast, What Should I Read Next – or from friends or any other source.

I’ve also rediscovered my love of audio books via the Overdrive app. I love listening to books while I go about my daily chores or drive around doing my errands. The ultimate in multi-tasking is doing something for fun and something necessary.

Below is my list of books I’ve read in the last month and what I thought of them on a scale of one to five stars. Since I read them in the order I am able to get them from the library, there are times when too many arrive at once and they expire before I can finish them or even before I can get to them. So some I’ve begun but have not finished and am waiting to get them back.

  1. A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France by Georgeanne Brennan – 4 stars. I like reading travelogues, especially if they deal with living in France or Italy. There were some areas in her story that felt disjointed but it didn’t ruin the overall effect for me. I also like her writing style.
  2. A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch – 5 stars. It was part travelogue, part memoir, part love story. I have several of Susan Branch’s cookbooks but only recently learned that she had written some novels. My library doesn’t have them so I had to request this one through Inter Library Loan. That’s how I’ll get her others too.
  3. An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof – 5 stars. Another travelogue/memoir with some recipes thrown in. This story was very close to what my husband and I had hoped to do five years ago: put our lives on hold for a year and cruise through the Caribbean with the family. We got as far as saving up the cruising kitty and buying a 36 ft sailboat boat but – to make a long and sad story very short – we never realized our dream. The boat required extensive repairs which ate up the savings and our window closed. So in some ways, I was able to live that dream vicariously through this book.
  4. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Five stars. The premise of this book had me intrigued: a woman falls and hits her head. When she wakes up she thinks it’s 10 years earlier when she was married and expecting her first child. The reality is that it’s 10 years later, she has three children and she is about to get a divorce. The relationships between various people was fascinating to me and I often stopped to wonder what about my life had changed in 10 years.
  5. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – Four stars. I listened to this book on audio. I enjoyed how the author wove the protagonist’s current time with her past, revealing this person’s character and how her past has shaped and defined her. I also enjoyed learning about the Victorian way of using flowers to communicate emotions.
  6. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. I’m not finished with this book yet but I have to say, based on the subject and the reviews it received, I expected to like it more than I am. 3.5 stars. It’s about two girls growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in the outskirts of Naples, Italy. In some ways it’s similar to my mother’s upbringing and the story that I’m sharing with Tuesdays with Tina. But in actuality it’s quite different. I wonder if I would like it better in the original language rather than the translation.
  7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’m not finished with this one yet either and I’m listening to it on audio. It’s not a genre I usually care for but I’m enjoying the story line enough to keep going. 3.5 stars.

I leave for Italy tomorrow! I’m only bringing books I own with me (not library books). Here’s what’s on my pile so far:

  1. Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker
  2. Journey to the South by Annie Hawes
  3. Ripe for the Picking by Annie Hawes
  4. A Handful of Honey by Annie Hawes
  5. Still Life by Louise Penny (on my Kindle app)

So many by the same author, you might wonder? I read Extra Virgin years ago and really enjoyed it. When I joined Goodreads I discovered that Annie Hawes had written other books about Italy. When our library didn’t have them, I found them for cheap on Amazon and ordered them all. Since I’ll be in Italy, it will be fun to read them there! As far as the first of the Inspector Gamasche series goes, I tried listening to Still Life on audio but since it takes place on France and there are many French words, I have to read this one for myself so I can see the French words. I’m a very visual reader that way. I also couldn’t stand to listen to My Brilliant Friend. The person reading was butchering the Italian names and words and I couldn’t take it.

Books I have but won’t get to before I leave:

  1. A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond (belongs to a friend and I really need to read it and return it!)
  2. The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook by Ellen McCarthy
  3. A Rich Spot of Earth by Peter Hatch (learned about this on our recent visit to Monticello)

And just in case these aren’t enough books, the books I read in May:

  1. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What W Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. 4.5 stars.
  2. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill. 3.5 stars.
  3. Little Herb Gardens: Simple Secrets for Glorious Gardens by Georgeann Brennan. Four stars
  4. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch. Five stars.
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Five stars.

Now hop on over to see what my friend Michael Ann is reading for more ideas! (She’s the one who talked me into buying Code of Silence!)

Monday Moments of Gratitude #16

Ahhh! So much to be grateful for! (Warning! Long post with lots of pix!) Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for another Monday Moments of Gratitude, a place where we are intentionally grateful for the little things in life.

1. Time off. I was busy living life and didn’t want to take any time away from life to write about it. Life has enough pressures so I’m glad I took some time off to simply live. I kept composing blog posts in my head but never made it over here to get them actually written down.

2. Lunch with my dad at Mrs. Wilke’s Boarding House in Savannah. I had learned about this place from an article in Southern Living magazine about a decade earlier. Dad and I have wanted to go and we finally made it happen. Savannah is about a two hour drive from Jacksonville but despite getting an early start, we still didn’t make the first seating. We waited in line for about two hours.

We finally got to the front of the line!And were shown to our table. It is already loaded with dishes of southern cooking. There was SO.MUCH.FOOD!I loaded my plate up with all matter of goodness. Seriously the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I ate my fill (and then some!)

I even managed to eat a small dish of peach cobbler. Hey, I’m not a quitter. What can I say? Dad and I had a lovely time together. I’m so glad we did this! Next year we are going on the BBQ trail.

2. My daughter’s Sweet Sixteen. I’ve mentioned before that this is a milestone year. My daughter turned 16 and we celebrated twice: once with family and once with her friends. Two friends came over on the morning of her birthday while she was with her dad watching the sun rise at the beach and filled her room with 150 balloons.
That evening we took her group of girls to the Brick Restaurant in Avondale.

Everyone looked so pretty all dressed up!

I am so blessed to have a daughter! (The greatest gift and honor is having you as a daughter! What movie is that line from?)

3. Two week trip through NC and VA. I had two homeschool conventions on back-to-back weekends and rather than drive up and back, Michael and I turned that trip into a mini-vacation and checked off two more things off of our 25th Anniversary Palooza list! #13 {Camping trip}, #23 {Blue Ridge Parkway NC to VA} and #24 {Vineyard tour in VA}.
On Sunday we toured a winery and a cidery. We had discovered Chateau Morisette a decade earlier so it was fun to return to this beautiful location. The landscaping at this place is spectacular! We sampled lots of wines -some really good, others not quite to our tastes – and bought several bottles to enjoy later. We also bought souvenir tshirts. We stayed for a tour of the winery. It was so fun to see all the barrels!

img_7881And learn how they make wine. Fascinating!img_7882Take a look at the ceiling. They used reclaimed wood from a sunken ship! Isn’t it stunning?img_7885

After the winery we found Foggy Ridge Cidery and were blown away by their cider. It was more wine than beer and it was delicious! We bought several bottles.img_7889We later had a bottle back at our little cabin with some local hoop cheese. Did I mention how good? So good!

The next day we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Floyd, VA. We found a cute little bookshop where we bought two children’s poetry books then went upstairs to have one of the best coffees we’ve ever had and went around the corner to the hardware store where we bought a locally made wooden cutting board. We camped at Peaks of Otter and the following day hiked to the top of Sharp Top Mountain. On our last day we camped outside of Charlottesville and visited Monticello. You might have caught some of that if you follow me on Instagram. For pictures of those adventures, go there!

4. Father’s Day. We had lunch at our friends’ house and visited with old friends who were in town. Four of the families have been friends from when we first moved to Jacksonville almost seventeen years ago. We caught up, reminisced and swapped stories. So.Much.Fun. So much laughter! Some of the kids even got to catch up!

That evening we picked up Timothy, our middle son, from the airport. He was returning from Colorado where he had spent a month serving at Young Life’s Frontier Ranch. So good to hug on him again!
5. James and Jessica’s wedding. This past weekend we flew to Chicago to attend Michael’s cousin’s wedding. We had fun at the rehearsal dinner and the following evening at the wedding.  The band playing at the reception was seriously SO GOOD! We had a blast dancing all night long.


Then the next day we walked all over the Art Institute of Chicago where we got to see many favorite Impressionism paintings and sculptures and then  caught an Uber to have lunch at Carmine’s. After that we walked the Magnificent Mile where I found a couple of really good deals. We logged close to 8 miles that day!
Like I said, so much to be grateful for! What are you grateful for this week? Link up with Shaunacey or tell me in the comments so I can celebrate with you!Monday Moments of Gratitude

Summer swing dress {Create 28}

Since you probably haven’t noticed, I’ll just go ahead and tell you: I’ve been missing for a while. I’ve been traveling and working and have been too busy living life to be documenting it! Ha ha! But today, I’m back at home, the laundry is caught up and it’s my turn to host today’s Create28 look! It just so happens to be one of my favorites!

A summer swing dress.

Last summer, I purchased my first swing dress from Old Navy and instantly fell in love with this comfy yet cute look. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing an extra large t-shirt? The difference is that rather than being an unshapely sack, it’s actually flattering on! Throw on some flat sandals, a necklace and you’re good to go!

Because of that, this spring when I found several dresses for a ridiculously low price at Ross, I had to buy them all.  Here’s one of my favorites…

striped swing dressThis black and white dress can be worn to run errands and then meet a friend or hubby for dinner. I added gold accents with my rope necklace and gold sandals.

black swing dress 2The great thing about swing dresses is that they are loose, allowing the air to flow on a hot, sticky day, which is what we are having around here. They are also forgiving when you’ve been traveling and eating out a lot and may have put on a few pounds. {ahem}

black swing dressIt’s great to have a few easy dresses in your closet that you can throw on at a moment’s notice! A knit swing dress is definitely one of them!

If you are looking for some summer outfit inspiration, check out the blogs below and join the Blended Blog tomorrow for a recap and link up!

Create28-Week 2

Nautical Navy! {Create 28}

It’s my turn to host the look for Create 28! For 28 days in June, each of The Blended Blog contributors will be creating a summer look.  So, check out the series for some outfit inspiration this summer.  Tomorrow, stop by Foxy’s Domestic Side for a Warm Weather Wedding look! Sarah lives in Sunny California so she will be sure to have some great ideas to what to wear to a wedding this summer! She also has great dresses.

Create28-Week 1

The nautical look includes the primary colors of navy, red and yellow so for this Nautical Navy prompt, I deviated from my usual navy blue. All my nautical looks involve the color navy so I decided to add a little red this time.  I am loving white jeans so much this spring/summer that I have added a third pair to my collection. If it’s really warm out, you could easily wear white shorts in place of the long pants.

The red striped top is bright and cheerful.And, of course, I added my starfish necklace. I just love it! I added silver accents with my necklace and sandals, but you could easily add gold hoop earrings, a gold rope necklace and gold sandals.

If the weather (or air conditioning) is a little cool, I would throw on a lightweight but long-sleeved open cardigan, a jeans jacket or a navy blazer.


Love the nautical look! Easy and never goes out of style! I love a classic look!

Summer dress {Style Perspectives}

Ha! Last week I goofed! I said it was our last week of Style Perspectives but actually THIS week is! The Blended Blog will continue with fashion posts on Wednesdays beginning this week as we go through Create28. Here’s a look at last week’s navy nautical look from Nicole. (I thought it was funny that several people thought it was my look since I love the nautical look!)


This week it’s Andrea‘s turn hosting on the Blended Blog. Stop by to see what she styled for this prompt she chose. (Knowing her, it’s going to be fabulous!)

I had fun going to Old Navy with my daughter over the weekend. (She turned 16 on Saturday and gets her license tomorrow! Eeeek!) I had no intention of shopping for myself but in the end they had a lot of cute things that I couldn’t resist getting two things. One was this sundress.

It’s loose and light and strappy. Perfect for a hot day!The back has this gathered area so it stays on nice and snug but still allowing me to breathe.
I added this sailboat necklace because…nautical! Don’t you love how the print of the dress looks like water?

Below are the links to the others. Check out their looks. You might find one you’ll want to copy!

style perspect
DAILY STYLE FINDS: The Personal Stylist
FOXY’S DOMESTIC SIDE: The Crafty Engineer
SIMPLY SHAUNACEY: Reformed Frumpy Mommy
TWO TEENS AND THEIR MAMA: Stylish Midlife Mama
RSQUARED: The Not So Nerdy Accountant
SHOES TO SHIRAZ: The Shoe Hoarding French Teacher
PUPPIES AND PRETTIES: Cube Dwelling Fashionista
MAKING THE MOST OF EVERYDAY Classic Yet Current Over Forty
NICKANDNIK: Mama with Curves
LIVING ON CLOUD NINE: Blissful Fashionista
WHITNEY À LA MODE: A Book-Loving French Teacher

If you need some inspiration on what to wear each day, join us during the month of June, following the clothing prompts put out by different Blended Bloggers. Join them on their blogs and we’ll all link up on Wednesdays on the Blended Blog. Here are the first week’s prompts. It’s nice to not to have to think too much about what to wear! Create28-Week 1I hope you’ll join us!

Link up this week’s look below!

Navy Nautical {Style Perspectives}

It’s our last week of Style Perspectives! How can it already have been 15 weeks? The Blended Blog will continue with fashion posts on Wednesdays beginning next week as we go through Create28. More on that at the end of this post. But first…last week’s graduation looks:

graduation look

This week it’s Nicole‘s turn hosting on the Blended Blog. Stop by to see what she styled for this prompt she chose. I had an embarrassingly amount of nautical/navy/striped options I could have chosen but I decided to style this Merci tee. I purchased this last month at Ross for a great price! It’s flowy and loose and I love it.

Navy and white striped shirt

I have already paired it with white jeans, with skinny jeans, and with jean shorts but today I styled it with longer Bermuda shorts. I kept the accessories simple: an Alex and Ani bracelet my son gave me (it has a compass rose on it), a silver statement watch and little hoop earrings.

Merci with hatAs I get older, I find that the sun bothers me if I’m in it for a long time. So I’ve taken to wearing a hat if I’m going to be out for a long time, say at an art festival.

Merci wearing hat I especially like this straw one because it has strings with a toggle (which is behind my back so you can’t see it in this picture). This keeps it on my head and not flying off if a gust of wind should hit!

Next month, beginning on June 1st, different Blended Bloggers will be hosting a prompt on their blogs and we’ll all link up on Wednesdays on the Blended Blog. If you want to play along, here are the first week’s prompts. It’s nice to not to have to think too much about what to wear! Create28-Week 1I hope you’ll join us!

Link up this week’s look below!

Then comes baby! {Tuesdays with Tina, Part 22}

Tuesdays with Tina is where I chronicle my Italian mother’s story, from being born in a bomb shelter in World War 2, to meeting and marrying my US Navy father. It is an unlikely love story that has lasted almost 50 years. If you missed any part of the story, you can catch up here.Tuesdays with TinaMe: [to Hugh] What was your work? What was your job at that time?

Hugh: Before we got married I started training for flying to become air crew. It was six months and I qualified but I always had to fly on my days off from my regular work. We worked at a place called NALCOE [Naval Air Logistics Coordinator Europe] and what we did was every day all the bases in Europe would send us an all hand report of all the mail, cargo and people they had on hand to be moved. And then NALCOE would direct VR-24 to send a flight, NAS Sigonella to send a flight to pick up cargo or people and move it around. That’s all we did. One week we’d work 7:00 to 3:00, another week we’d work 3:00 to 11:00 and one week we’d work 11:00 to 7:00. Every three weeks you’re back on days. When I was on days I couldn’t fly because I was working 7:00 to 3:00. Our flights would usually take off at 7:00 and we’d get back around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. When I’d work the afternoon shift, I could fly out to the boat and then come back and work.

Me: So you’d fly in the morning, then come back and work in the evening til 11:00 at night. So basically you’d work two shifts. Then you’d go to sleep. Then back to work. And you did that why?

Hugh: Because I wanted to fly!

Me: So you had to have a certain number of hours before you could do that as your job?

Hugh: No, you had to be trained.

Me: So you had to get trained on your own time?

Hugh: You got trained on your own time and you flew on your own time. They had it good with me because they had a guy who would train on his own time fly on his own time.

Me: So it’s not like you got extra pay…

Hugh: Oh I DID get extra pay! I got flight pay. I think it was a hundred and something dollars a month extra.

Tina: Besides all the other stuff you did! [Enter a long discussion of some other activity here. Ahem.]

Tina: Everyone tried to stretch their pay.

Me: So then when I was born, I know it wasn’t customary for you to be in the room, were you at the hospital? Were you working?

Tina: He brought me to the hospital and I remember that you were born at 10:07 pm and I had been in labor since 2:00. They gave me this shot, but I didn’t know what it was. I was laboring and then I didn’t feel any pain. I was totally in the dark. I didn’t understand what was happening.

Me: There was no one there who could translate?

Tina: No. No and they didn’t even try. They gave me this shot without asking. In fact later I asked your father if they had asked him and he said no. So they gave me the epidural, I didn’t feel any pain and they were telling me to push. Remember this is my first child and I was also very naive. So they tell me to “Push! Push!” and then they said, “She’s born!” They had bet that I was going to have a boy from the heartbeat they thought they could tell. So when they said “She’s born” I wanted to see because I was expecting to have a boy! I didn’t believe them. I was sure I was having a boy I was afraid they were going to swap babies! Afterwards, they brought me to my room and that night they made me get up to go to the bathroom so I could get cleaned up and I passed out. I had to stay in the hospital for a week because I was in pain, my head and my shoulders, and I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow. In fact, I couldn’t even have a pillow. I had to lie flat on the bed. I couldn’t nurse you because I couldn’t sit up. Your father would go visit you in the nursery but they wouldn’t let my mother in. They were very severe. After a week I was able to go home but I still wasn’t great. Since I suffered so much with these pains, when it was time for David to be born, I told them no, I didn’t want the shot because I didn’t want the same problems.  When I was in the hospital, a girl would come in (we were in a double room), she would give birth and leave. Another girl would arrive, give birth, and leave. I was there for a week! I wasn’t well. So I decided I wanted to give birth naturally like so many millions of women have done, and then at the last minute, “Ack! Help!” My waters hadn’t broken; they had to break my waters because I was having so much pain. I remember it was on a Sunday at 11:30 at night. “It’s a little boy!” and I was sure I was having another girl because all they symptoms were exactly the same.

Hugh: She told me it was going to be another girl because it was just like the other one!

Tina: Exactly the same! Saliva, I liked coffee…everything the same! The same movements. When they said, “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!” I didn’t believe them! “I want to see! I want to see!” It took three days to decide on a name because we hadn’t picked out boys names! It was supposed to be Sharon Christy. Oh boy! So we agreed on David because it was easy enough for the Italian family and the American family.

Hugh: You had to pick a name that they could pronounce.

Tina: Yes, like ‘Jonathan’ or ‘Jacqueline’. Those were too hard.

Hugh: ‘David’ is ‘Davide’.

Tina: Even ‘Sheila’ has always been easy. So your father said, “You pick David and I pick the middle name.” And he picked Jack. 

Hugh: And she chose ‘Sheila’ and I chose ‘Kaye’.

Me: I never knew that!

Tina: Yes, this was the origin of the names!



Young Life’s Frontier Ranch {MMoG#15}

On Friday, rather than attend my son’s graduation ceremony with Providence Extension Program, my husband and I woke up at a crazy-early-hour to take our son to the airport so he could catch his American Airlines flight to Charlotte and then connect to his flight to Denver. Then he rendezvoused with a group of young people to take a ride to Frontier Ranch outside of Buena Vista, CO. Although he had not been involved with Young Life until just a few months ago, he has heard stories about Young Life camps and how awesome they are from his father and me. We met through Young Life in college. It was a great ministry for us then and it’s still going strong! So when he said he he wanted to get involved with YL while in college, we were very pleased. His cousin, Cole, attended FR last summer and this summer Cole’s sister is going the same session as Timothy! So the cousins will get to work together! How fun will that be?

Dinner at Chipotle's

The last supper together at Chipotle’s!

Jax Int'l Airport

Oh my it’s early! At the airport getting our last hugs!

Through TSA

There he goes!

He will be on work crew, serving as a server. He didn’t really have a lot of details of what his job will entail ahead of time but I served on workcrew at Southwind in 1989 or 1990(?) as a server and we basically waited tables. Three meals a day. Set up, served food and drinks, cleaned up. Repeat.

He is such a people person and a servant and I know he will have a blast getting to know kids and other leaders. I am SOOO excited for him! He will get to see real mountains! He loves the outdoors and hiking and rock climbing and to be surrounded by all that nature will be so wonderful for him!

On his Instagram, he wrote the following:

I’m going to camp from May 20th to June 19th! I won’t have my phone or any other electronics so WRITE ME LETTERS “Frontier Ranch
Timothy DelCharco-WC
P.O.Box 2025 Buena Vista, CO 81211″

Put that on the front of your envelope and even if I hardly know you I’d love if you wrote me a letter! I will answer each and every one that I receive! You’ll also receive my eternal thanks and gratitude for spending the time to write me a letter!
Don’t know what to write about? •ask me about my life
•tell me about your life
•ask me about books I like
•ask me about my faith
•don’t ask me about college I’m tired of that junk
•tell me about your passions or experiences
•ask me about how much I like math
This is not a conclusive list please feel free to write to me about things not on this list but do write to me!

So if you care to, even if you don’t know him, would you drop Timothy a postcard from where you live? I think it would be so fun for him to receive postcards from all over the country, nay, the WORLD while he is at camp. Jot a thing or two about yourself and where you live. And if you are a believer, maybe say a prayer or two for him and the others at FR? How great would it be for him to receive mail every day (I mean besides from his mother)?

I am grateful for this opportunity in which he gets to participate.

I am grateful for this child (who is a man now but will forever be MY child!)

I am grateful for my friends who love me by loving my children.

I am grateful for this online community.

I’m just gushing with gratitude over here.

Linking up with Simply Shaunacey.

Monday Moments of Gratitude


Simple Graduation Party Ideas

I promised you Monday that I would share the simple things I did to decorate for our home-grown graduation ceremony and party.

I had created a Graduation board on Pinterest several years ago when my first son graduated. I added a few more pins when I was searching for easy and not very expensive ways to decorate for THIS party. You can follow that board here.

Graduation Themed Treats

First up was some easy graduation themed treats. I loved some of the mortar board treats I found on the web but a few of them were too complicated. These were just right. Here’s my version.  mortar board candies

All it took was mini peanut butter cups, chocolate covered graham crackers, and fruit-by-the-foot. I unwrapped all the pb cups, smeared a tiny smear of peanut butter and attached the cookie on top. Then I snipped the fruit leather into strips and snipped the ends to form a tassel. That was attached with pb too. Easy and so cute!

Next up was this pin of diploma cookies.

diploma cookies

I bought two tins of Pirouette cookies and tied them with some red cording. Easy peasy yet everyone knew exactly what they were!

Simple Graduation Decorations

I have these two apothecary jars that needed something graduation-y. Annie and I went to three different stores looking for plastic mortar boards to fill them but could not find a thing! So I decided to make them out of cardstock and yellow floss. The little one on the table is a cake topper made of plastic that I had kept from Tommy’s graduation. That’s what I used as my model. I should have made more to fill them all the way but it had gotten late and I was tired. paper mortar boardsI had wanted to make a slideshow but in the end we printed up about 60 pictures of Timothy through the years and spread them out all over the place. My daughter was getting rid of this chickenwire picture hanger she had made from a Goodwill frame, so we hung it up and clipped pictures to it, stuck more in the mirror next to it, and scattered them around on end tables and the TV cabinet. It was fun to look through those and see Timothy through the years.picturesI think his high school friends who didn’t know Timothy as a little kid had fun looking at them too! all the treats

Easy Outdoor Graduation Decorations

congrats sign

This pin inspired this CONGRATS sign. I created it on Canva. If you want the file, let me know in the comments with an email address and I will send it to you. I printed them up on cardstock and glued the letters onto paint sticks from Lowe’s. (So sad that the sprinklers ruined these the following morning! Oh well! I can easily recreate them!) I purchased a dozen blue, grey (silver) and white balloons (UNF’s colors) and put them in the front and back yards.

tables and streamers

Since we had just finished constructing this shelter/lean-to/gazebo (we don’t know what to call it), we wanted to dress it up. (And it was perfect on this sunny day!) I found this pin for how to make streamers out of dollar store plastic tablecloths. Since I couldn’t find grey tablecloths we just did blue and white. Annie and I folded them vertically and then she cut them with a ruler and rotary cutter, then tied knots at the top. Then the whole thing was stapled to the wooden structure. It fluttered in the breeze and made the space festive!


I created these mason jar flower center pieces with a 2016 pick which I also created on Canva. I printed them on cardstock and double sided taped them over a wooden skewer.

flower centerpiecesI liked how they looked on the tables. diploma napkins

And finally, I bought a few things, like these paper plates, from Target. My mom wrapped up the plasticware in white paper napkins to look like more diplomas, like this pin.

And that’s it! It made the day feel special but it wasn’t crazy over-the-top with the decorations. I hope these simple ideas for decorating will inspire you as you celebrate a graduation in the future!Simple, Easy Graduation Decorations graphic

To read about our special Homeschool Graduation Ceremony, go here.