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Tales of Old Florida: Crandon Park and Zoo Miami.

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Once upon a time, long ago in Miami's past, a rich family decided to donate land on Key Biscayne in order to secure the construction of a bridge that would ultimately increase the property values of their other properties on said key. Whether you believe the donation was philanthropic or not, we know for a fact that in 1940, the heirs of Commodore William John Matheson donated 808.8 acres of their holdings on Key Biscayne to Dade County. This donation came with a condition- that the land be used as a public park.   In exchange for that donation, the chairman of the County Commission Charles H. Crandon offered to build a causeway that would connect Key Biscayne to the mainland. This agreement came to fruition on November 9, 1947 when the Rickenbacker¹ causeway opened, allowing automobile access to Virginia Key, Crandon Park and the rest of Key Biscayne. 
One year later in 1948, a traveling animal show broke down or (most likely) became defunct when it visited the County. It was t…

Tales of Old Florida: Long Key Nature Center

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Once upon a time, long ago in Old Florida, there was a man named Robert Hoyt.

 Mr. Hoyt was a horticulturalist in Clearwater. He was also an organizing member of the Florida State Horticultural Society. That might seem dull to you, but I assure you that reading about the Wild Wild West of Horticulture in 1880s Florida is far from dull.* But I digress. Mr. Hoyt, in true Florida fashion, went on a trip to India and brought back with him two Bombax ceiba seedlings. Of the two, one survived, and he planted it across from his orange grove. Over time, the tree grew massive and became a curiosity that tourists visited in the 1940s.

  In the 1950's, a tourist from Maryland named Richard B. Baumgardner visited Clearwater with his family. Seeing how popular the tree was, he decided to purchase the land it was on (and the orchard) to build a 'destination restaurant' called The Kapok Tree Inn. It was as ostentatious, opulent, and gaudy as a restaurant-tourist trap in Old Florida cou…

Order of operations.

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A little over seven months into our time here, we have finally established our daily patterns in order to ensure successful* days. Things are as scheduled and orderly as you can make them when dealing with two very willful children. South Florida is a loud, colorful, hectic mess. But we're ok with that. 

At least I think we are! 

As mentioned in an earlier post, the kids overall attitude keeps getting better, not worse. I see in them now a level of happiness which was more than my pessimistic little heart dared to hope for after their run in with Cumbres. Things are still a work in progress (that I accept will be never ending) but they are both doing so well

I only have to look at their art wall to know that. 

 Our oldest's school is really working with her (and us) as we navigate through ESE in Florida. We are now at the stage where she is being formally assessed at school. After the entire process is over, I will probably write an in-depth post about it. But for right now …

Through the looking-glass.

Time is a constant you grow acutely aware of as the years go by.

  Its passage feels more pronounced the longer you are out as an expat, or (for those who move away from their hometowns to later return) when you return home. It has been busy these last three months. I have been quieter more than I wanted to be, because of the relentless pace our life has taken since returning to Florida.

  As is our tradition, we had a welcome back/return party about a month after arrival. We invited everyone, and we had more people show than we expected. I don't know if it was because we are not staying 'just a month', like we would for home leave... if it was because of the current political climate, or if time had a hand in prompting people to show up. So it was with our party. There were a ton of people there, that I had not seen in some time.

It was the best hail to post I think we have ever had in our FSLife.

  I have been sending out actual, real, honest-to-goodness resumes for jo…

The difficult ones.

I know it's hard.
It's hard to like the difficult ones.

Their minds and eyes wander from the page.
Accidentally, of course.
Like glitter slime in a colander

their


minds



avoid




capture





by escaping through the holes.

A picture on the wall.
The actions of another child.
Anything. Anything except the words on the page.
The number problems hidden in sentences.
Se quenc ing

Their day is a rebellious day.
Red like a warning light.

red

Red

RED

Sometimes yellow.

Rarely green.


I know it's easy.
It's effortless to like the easy ones.

The ones that can focus. Like lasers.
Minds and eyes remain on the page.
Little to no back talking to be found.
Instructions almost always followed.

They

are

on

point.

It is easier to laugh when they make a mistake.
Smiles are more plentiful, as are chances.

Their day is a green day.
Green like a summer day.

green

Green

GREEN

Sometimes yellow.

Rarely red.


I know.

I know it is hard

to like a difficult child.

But I love my difficult child.
As fiercely as I…

Onward.

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Months ago, when my kids were still going to Spanish class here, I ran into another expat mom. She was a new arrival to the area, having recently moved to Mérida. While the kids were in class, we chatted about a life traveling with kids, finding your people in your new home, and making a life for yourself amidst all of it. In the course of our chat she told me the story about how she found out her family would be moving to Mérida.
  Apparently, they had lived in the same place for seven years, and she'd left a picture from their initial move wrapped all that time. In her mind, as long as that last picture never got unwrapped and hung, they would never leave.

For seven years, that picture stayed wrapped up, and tucked in its corner.

  So, imagine her shock at seeing it on the wall after a handyman she'd hired to fix something else in the house, completed the task he was hired for then also unwrapped the picture and hung it up.

That same night, her husband came home and told …

Nepenthe

We are leaving Mérida.

I am going to miss Mérida.

  I know that statement seems at odds with my previous writings, but I will miss the city and its people. After almost a year here, my Spanish (which had withered from years of neglect) has improved dramatically. I have made acquaintances (both expat and locals) that could have probably become full-fledged friends had we stayed here the full three years. One of them might still become a long-term friend, but we'll see. You come to accept that friendships made in this life are what you put into them. Sometimes, this ends up being a one-way street despite your best intentions.

  My plan of visiting as many archaeological sites in the region is pretty much at its end. I would like to visit at least one more site, but realistically I probably won't. We've just run out of time. It turns out that you can only squeeze so many sites in between work, school, people getting sick, poor weather, and any other roadblock life throws at…