Pensacola, take two.

It is Break Week.  The week between school’s end and summer camp’s start, when families are suppose to take off and Be Families.

Here’s our secret: find owners directly and work out last-minute deals.  Granted, even if this weren’t my secret mode of finding fabulous rates, we’d end up here since we can’t seem to make any decisions about travel until the last minute.

Beach trivia and travails:

— Will reports having “like, 102 girlfriends” to his potential beach buddies.

— We may need to go the Speedo route for Will, who is prone to salt/sand rash on his inner thighs.

— Kate’s preferred hat is Will’s swim cap.

— We saw the new Grand Canyon IMAX at the Naval Aviation Museum.

— Paul and I (finally) watched “Juno” and are going to watch Slumdog Millionaire next.  I think that seeing these two will completely catch us up on current films, right?

— I found a whole sand dollar (dead, not live) at our last beach trip and do not believe I will trump that shelling moment on this trip, despite trying.

The view is a little different this time (1 floor down, on the other side of the building, interior unit.)

Other plans: Pier walk and sailing.


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Pensacola Beach

Weekend trip, Friday afternoon to Sunday evening.

2 Dads.  3 Moms.

7 kids. Ages 12, 7, 6, 5, 3, 3, and 2.

Out of tequila the first night.

Will rocks the beach.  He’s all about the accessories.

The beach was incredible.  I learned that winds from the north make the best beach days.  Absolutely no surf, perfect.

Our empirical findings were that ear plugs remain in the ear for 2.2 minutes longer with the head gear.

Plenty of time in the sea kayak.

Even for Bait.  I mean, Kate.

Kate loved the boat.  Plenty of opportunity to order Paul around.

Paul and I took a few trips out in the kayak together; once with the camera.

See the fish jumping?  They do that when there is a predator in the water.  We didn’t see anything.  Of course, I didn’t see the shark on the sandbar I happily swam out to, either, so my observational qualities may be lacking.

View from the 16th floor.  Bay on the left, gulf on the right.

See the sandbar?  It’s close.

We didn’t get out to the pier this visit.

We saw plenty of sailboats, particularly on the bay.  Maybe we’ll try and go sailing again next time we’re at the beach?

Kate asked to be a mermaid.

She LOVED being a mermaid.

I brought Plaster of Paris and the kids made hand prints (foot for Kate) in the sand.  They stuck shells from the beach in the plaster casts as they dried.  We did this last year so I guess it’s our new beach tradition?

That’s Kate’s foot and Will’s hand.

Paul brought the stunt kite, so when the wind picked up from the south on Saturday afternoon, he flew the kite a bit… with an audience.

Next week is the week between the end of school (tomorrow is Will’s last day) and the start of summer camp (on the 22nd).  We’re considering going back…?

Art & Photography
Family Photos

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Boston Boston Boston.

This is not the city I visited last week.  But it’s on the way.  Doesn’t it look quaint and, yes, maybe even compact, from up in the sky?  And the strange colors?  The polarizer on my camera and the polarizer on the plane windows got realllll friendly-like and made these colors.  Groovy.

Spending four days in Boston was a dizzying, unsettling experience.  Not because of the long work days.

And not because I embarrassingly bought the first “Twilight” book to read during the trip (*seriously blushing*).

I stayed in two incredible communities (Jamaica Plain and Brookline) both architecturally and historically rich.  It was like being surrounded with the beautiful architecture of an old city, yet with the added bonus of public transportation, roads, and sidewalks wide enough for bicyclists.  I heard that the improvements were made to facilitate use of the public transport by folks with limited mobility.  There were no clogged sewer drains.  The streets were paved smooth — not one hole, bump, or even an unmet seam to mar your way.  The gutters were clear of dirt and debris.  Public spaces were clean, with plentiful information centers, bathrooms, and historical markers.  Traffic was constant, but moving and managed.  Police popped up to move traffic and pedestrians along.  And those were all happening in the parts of town where parents don’t want to live because the schools are bad.

If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it, either.

Really.  It was like people got together, agreed on the things that made a nice urban environment, and then made it happen.

It was fantastic.

And also?  A bit creepy.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all intellectual and deep-n-stuff.  I can totally hang with my erudite academic peeps.  But I think, after awhile, the nirvana-like perfection stresses me out.  Sometimes I just want to hang out in generic flip-flops, drink from the bottom shelf, and chase it down with Folger’s from a Styrofoam cup.  And I want to do it with six other people who couldn’t care less about it just as long as they get a swig.  I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it.  I guess I love that my city can say the same thing.

But I’m happy that Boston is so nice.  What a great place to have in our country.

Even in the construction zone of a church, being rebuilt after a fire destroyed it almost 2 years ago, kids were playing in the relative safety of the yard.  Right beside a trailer set up for community services.  Just, nice.

All of these pictures were taken in Jamaica Plain last Tuesday night, the day I arrived.  My Boston College colleague and mentor walked for several hours around the neighborhood with me — we stopped in a local bookstore, walked around the ‘pond,’ had a fantastic feast of Indian cuisine, and polished it off with ice cream from the local dairy.


There were messages like this all over…


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What else could we do in 4 days?

My lovely Aunt Deb, a photographer, traveler, hard-working, dedicated, all-round sort of lady to admire, came and visited for the past 4 days and we’ve been basking in the glow of it. Besides the fun excuses it gives us to blow off working and go out to yummy lunches, we have had an extra adult in the house to help with kid wrangling. The bonus is that this adult cooks, cleans, and grocery shops without so much as a peep from us– she just sees that something needs to be done and does it! It’s like having a fairy godmother around doing all the things you just can’t bare to think about.

Plus, she’s fun to take pictures with.

The kids adored her and we know this because they actually smile when she pulls out her camera. A very different reaction from what I get.

Between adventures in photography and culinary indulgences, I’ve managed to finish my Schweitzer Poster for tomorrow’s Celebration in Service, AND completed my final report (which isn’t due until May 1st, how’s that for accomplishment?!)

(Please don’t ask how much I’ve written in my dissertation. It may make me cry.)

(Insert baby duck chaser as mood lifter.)

I am trying to finish an abstract in the next few days for conference submission. It was a goal I set a few months ago and after Alejna‘s brilliant balancing act of abstract writing and cross-country travel, I want to be her when I grow up so I’m thinking this is a good start. That’s SORT OF writing for my dissertation, so maybe that means I’m not totally off schedule. 

(Insert inspirational rainbow.)

Here’s where I could use some insight:

This weekend starts Will and Kate’s spring break.  Paul and I have to be back for work mid-week, giving us 4 days open for Quality Family Time.  4 days of it.  Since the kids are out of school, we’ve got them no matter what, so shouldn’t we use the time as best as we can?  (If we stay, no matter what, we’ll work through those days.)  We could leave as early as Friday.

Should we have a family siesta out of town? And, if so, are there suggestions on fun and exciting things to do within 5 hours of New Orleans?

OH. And we’re working on those Just Posts…. due out on the 10th this month! Because we’re (ahem) nostalgic. 4-1-1 available here.

Art & Photography
Mi Familia

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Don’t you make me stop writing this post…

During our 140 mile drive from New Orleans to Mobile, I was nostalgic for the way things used to be. Back when we walked uphill 3 miles each way to wait an hour at the bus stop for a ride to school, and had to go to the library and use a card catalog to find books for research papers, and didn’t have a variety of handheld electronics to fight over on car trips. We annoyed our parents with “ARE WE THERE YET,” which is very much preferred over, “I WANT TO PLAY WITH THE GAME THINGY” “NO, IT’S MY TURN” “NO IT IS NOT YOUR TURN” etc.

I tried to explain the joy of simply looking out the window at the dark silhouettes of trees, looking for words and letters in street signs and license plates, listening to the radio, and using your imagination to day dream away the trip. That is how we did it, yessir-ree, and it was character building.

It just goes to show that no matter what you do, what you have, or what you put in front of children during a car ride — they will always annoy you as a point of fact. So save your batteries, Moms and Dads. Don’t worry about the DVD player, the Ipod, or handheld game machine. It won’t matter. They will still make you threaten to pull over that car.

Now that we are in Mobile, here are a few pictures of the kids from January 2007 that I found on my parents’ computer…


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