Once a month, we would clamber into the family car and drive into Dade to visit our grandmother. She lived in a condo on Miami Beach, nestled close to what would eventually become (nowadays) ground zero for celebrities and wannabe celebrities in South Florida- South Beach. But in 1980, it was as far from trendy as you could imagine.  A place of dilapidated art deco apartment buildings filled with the elderly and those new to the States, slowly dying antique shops, bodegas, and the occasional tourist trap filled with everything you could stick a shell to. It was the opposite of the 80s suburban landscape of one story single family homes my parents had bought into in Broward.  It was an adventure.  These trips were relegated to once a month,  on a weekend , because we lived in Broward and my dad was  a very busy man™ . Each visit would follow a pattern. Drive down in the morning when the highway was less crowded and parking was guaranteed. Climb the stairs to her apartment, and

Traveling tangle.

Let me help you. I know you can do it on your own. But there's a traveling tangle that won't leave your hair alone. This traveling tangle's pesky it weaves itself into knots defying the detangler and running down the clock. As you can see he's tricky and the brush can miss some spots when there's a tangle entanglement the battles can hurt a lot. I know this tangle's travels have made you pretty cross Having seen the path he takes I can say he might be lost Let me help you. I know you can do it on your own. But there's a traveling tangle that won't leave your hair alone. This troublesome tangle is stubborn and doesn't want to budge it's going to take convincing 'cause I think he has a grudge Let me help you. I know you can do it on your own. But there's a traveling tangle that won't leave your hair alone. Now I know your patience is failing and the time spent wrangling a cost But i'm done an

Florida girl.

 Last October, we purchased the Florida resident passes to Disney, and had gone a few times but wanted to squeeze in at least one or two more visits before they expired. In May, we had a plan to take a vacation after the kids went back to school, over Labor Day weekend. In my never ending search to get the cheapest price for a room at the resort, I booked it via Expedia because they had cheaper room rates. The last time we went, I also booked a room with Expedia. On that occasion, it was very last minute, so when we got to the park and they told us we were unable to purchase the dining plan, we just sucked it up.  Now, I knew this vacation was coming up, but life has been busy for the last few months. So I left the setting up of dining plans and fast passes and whatnot as a last-minute task. For those of you who are unaware, we had a Tropical Storm that (as of this writing) is going to be a Category 1 Hurricane. I also was unaware that tomorrow is the opening of the new Start Wa

Tales of Old Florida: Crandon Park and Zoo Miami.

 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.

Tales of Old Florida: Long Key Nature Center

 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 F

Order of operations.

“There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”   ―  Bob Ross            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

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 res