How we do Family Vacation

Keep it cool (dollar cones on Wednesday, half gallons at our condo, 3 dollar twisters on Thursday)

Keep it flowing (pool, beach, dancing water, rain, baths, showers (even two in one day!), repeat)

Keep it playful (Settlers of Catan, goofing around with Uncle Brendan, Tampa Children’s Museum)

Keep it active (five mile beach walks, wave riding in a wind storm, stroller pushing down the pier, castle building, kite flying, golf, the occasional squat and sit-up)

Keep it conversational (politics, current hot topics, stories, technology, babies, basketball, Tiger, McDonald’s, choice)

Keep it full (Brazilian steakhouse, pizza nights, chicken, bagel morning, snack drawer, ice cream, watermelon, cold cuts, egg sandwiches, banana nut bread, apple pie)

Keep it hydrated (coffee, tea, Ice, pop, wine, water)

Keep it social (Great-Grandpa, Aunt Barb, and Uncle Ray)

Throw in a few temper tantrums, a couple shopping trips, a beach view, HGTV and Sports Center, a few good books, late nights, early mornings, a couple of parks, a child who talks non-stop, a child who runs non-stop, and a child who rolls non-stop…

I couldn’t ask for a better vacation.  Allison and Claire – we miss you.  Mom, Dad, Brendan, Shawn, and the kiddos – thank you.

Repeat, please?


Two locations I’d like to highlight in the Madeira Beach area:

Best deals on ice cream and so many flavors!  If you are anywhere close, check out Twistee Treat.  2 dollar sundaes on Tuesday, 1 dollar cones on Wednesday, and 3 dollar Twisters on Thursday.


TerraMar Brazilian Steakhouse.  Calling all carnivores!  Great hometown place with a ton of charm and delicious food.  Plus, the price is so reasonable.  $16.99 for all you can eat buffet and nine different types of meats served to the table.  Got my fill on iron for the year!  Loved the chicken drumstick, steak kabob, and top sirloin.  Good stuff.  I take that back.  Great stuff.  I treated Shawn, my dad, and my grandpa for Father’s Day.  We had a terrific time at a terrific place.

My Extended Village

The month of May has been a friends and family fest.  First, I spent two weeks in Virginia with my parents and sisters.  Then Shawn and I took the gang to PA for a tour of friend visits.  We caught up with the Fords, Omans, Harmons, Sukowskis, and Pinchots.  We spent over thirty hours in the car in the course of our travels, telling stories, sleeping, and reading.  But I also had plenty of time to reflect on how fortunate I am to have such a close and wonderful family and good, good friends.  Though our visits were too quick, our time together always, always too short, it was enough to remind me how fortunate I am to have such a strong and extended village of people who care about me, Shawn, and our kids.  It was enough to fill me with generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness.  When we returned home last week, I felt overwhelmingly grateful for three weeks worth of wonderful moments.  And I wanted to take a moment to say thank you.

Thank you for…

spoiling my children with hugs, clothes, books, cars, and art projects.

Primanti Bros.

egg-cellent breakfasts.

sweet and spicy peppers.

intro to Game of Thrones and iPad envy.

cookouts and coffee.

muffins and confetti cake.

beaver dam walks and front yard swimming.

many, many Settlers of Catan matches.

Amish bread and master bedroom displacement.

back yard barbecues and patio parties.

diaper changes.

chalk and bubbles.

an Elmo birthday party.

children’s museum and playground trips.

Girl’s Weekend.

little people and train sets.

mini bottles of Moscado.

big bottles of red.

catch-up conversations.

laughter.  Lots of laughter.

We love you.  Thank you for loving us and being part of our lives.

Camp: A Certain Kind of Perfect

Last week, we spent one of our days up north at Camp Kon-O-Kwee.  Though my family moved around a lot growing up, Camp was the one constant.  I started going to Camp Kon-O-Kwee when I was six years old in the YMCA’s Indian Princess program.  Then at seven, I started summer camp.  Then in high school, I became a Counselor-In-Training.  Two years later, I became a Counselor.  Then, and finally, I became a Village Director.

Part of me cannot believe that time in my life is over, that the many summers I spent at camp are over and done.  Camp creeps upon me at odd times: when a certain smell is in the air, a certain song is playing on the radio, a certain type of evening breeze, the feel of concrete or grass, the smell of a fire or marshmallows, stars in the sky.  And then I am right back there, back to the place that taught me so much about life, people, and possibility.  Camp, and the people there (namely Uncle Rob, Aunt Judy, Uncle Harry, and so many of the staff I worked alongside for so many summers), taught me how to recognize and be confident in my ability to work hard.  My parents instilled a solid work ethic in me, but it was at camp –  sweeping outside the dining hall Saturday mornings, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before lunch, helping out in the dish room, tarring cracks in the tennis court – where I realized I was, I am, good at working hard.  Really good at it.  In fact, it is the thing I like best about myself.

And though my days at Camp summer after summer and even on the weekends are over (and though this makes me unbelievable sad), it was with unparalleled delight that I was able to return, if only for a day, to camp with my kids.  We stayed in a beautiful guest cabin, tackled the Trail of Courage four times, walked across camp, took the kids on a paddle boat in the pond, took a morning hike, visited our old lodges, made a camp fire, roasted a bag full of marshmallows, and sat staring into the camp fire until nothing else seemed to matter very much at all except the simple fact of our family together and the gooey golden brown goodness of a perfectly roasted mallow.

As we sat there, Sidney rolling around on a blanket in the grass, Riley armed with a marshmallow stick, and Adrian asleep inside, I told Shawn the day had been perfect.  A certain kind of perfect.  Camp perfect.  He agreed.