Monday, June 16, 2014

Fun in Florida

It was a hard time to leave with all we have pending at Bear Lake. On the other hand it was a delight to meet about forty new couples who are doing a great job raising their children in Florida! We were invited to speak at a weekend retreat on Gasparilla Island at Boca Grande, Florida at a delightful place called The Gasparilla Inn. Southern Florida’s version of the West coast’s Del Coronado.image

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Around the corner was the gorgeous Gasparilla Club on the ocean where we enjoyed the beach before and after our speech, found great exercise equipment and delicious food. We loved meeting a lot of dynamic parents with entitled (but polite, beautiful and terrific) kids and who were ready for our message:Give your kids more by giving them less!”

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We were glad for that hat because on Friday night they had a beautiful dinner themed around the days of the Speak Easies in the ‘40s. Feathered plums were everywhere and that hat was good for everything!

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of that but this is the huge tent they had set up on Saturday night for a carnival for the kids, complete with booths all around the room and great carnival acts and food! The flowers weren’t bad either!

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We really enjoyed these great moms and especially good Dads on the day before Father’s Day.

Driving back to the airport in Tampa, we were impressed with the amazing infrastructure of Florida with beautiful freeways everywhere. There were no mountains to cross but lots of amazing ways to cross the abundance of waterways! This structure across Tampa Bay just blew us away!

See the “hole” for ships to go through in the middle? Those gold “pillars” are actually incredibly huge yellow cables. Pretty impressive!

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Pretty blurry on my iPhone 4S but you get the idea.

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We had a spectacular five hour ride home on one of those days when the weather brings about clouds that are out of this world (no pun intended)! I felt as though I was on Mount Everest! I missed the best part before I thought to take pictures.

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What a wonderful world!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lots of Work and a New Horse

We’re already thinking about Bear Lake. Partly because we’re excited for the annual influx of our kids and grandkids oozing of every crack and cranny! But also because it takes a LOT of work to get that crazy place ready for the crowds.

When we arrive after having been gone all winter, for me it’s a matter of clearing out the plethora of mice tracks and getting the flower beds cleared of the massive take-over of weeds. The perennials are mostly annuals because the weather is so severe up there in the winter. But a few survived and I rescue them and plant new flowers where their “friends” have “bit the dust” (literally) so we can enjoy them for the rest of the summer.

I’ll spare you the mice tracks, but this is pretty much what the eight flower beds surrounding the Lighthouse look like at the beginning of summer:

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And this year, even though I sprinkled the cracks with weed killer, the rock walkway to the front door was infested with those darn little “pricklies” who I guess don’t consider themselves weeds.

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This would not feel good on those bare summer feet! 

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But things are looking up!

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Those who know him best will know that Richard is thinking more about riding that bike above, spiffing up his new sailboat and foremost….buying a new horse than worrying about the weeds which his farmer-gene-laden wife fusses over.

Even though I grew up with horses, I’m fine with or without them but he is as obsessed with horses as I am with weeds. We have two horses. Lady is his horse because she’s just a bit temperamental and Duffy, who has been a nice horse has now just become a companion horse for Lady. A couple of years ago he decided that he just wants to lay down when anyone gets on him. No one is really excited about riding Duffy! 

So we really needed a kid friendly horse for all those grandkids about to show up, including one who is positively horse crazy.  Richard advertised on the Bear Lake radio station and the perfect horse, owned by a cute little rodeo family in Paris, about 10 miles away turned out to be just what we were looking for. Meet Roper:

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The kids crawled in and out of that nice sixteen-year old horse’s legs, stood on his back and had the horse drag a barrel around the arena to assure us that this was a perfectly gentle kid pony.

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We like him a lot! But we’re not sure that Lady and Duffy feel the same.

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After a few kicks from Lady when Roper got a little too close, the poor guy learned to keep his distance. They are gradually moving closer and closer to each other. After three days, they even ended up in the barn together. We’re not sure if those two broncos were trapping Roper in or making up for being mean for a few days. But so far, when we see them in the field, Roper is keeping his distance!

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So, even though there are plenty more weeds to take care of, we’re moving on to fun in the lake. These fun lake toys below are used so much during the summer with 26 grandchildren having fabulous fun on them that we pretty much have to buy a new one every year. Last year the crazy thing literally ripped in half!

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We’re building three new rooms down by the beach. Last year we had to put one family in a small RV with no bathroom. We are just bursting at the seams. But since our goal is basically to “Die Broke” we can’t think of anything we’d rather spend money on than a place to be together with our large group in July! I have to say that we are grateful that we can rent it when we’re not using it!

On to summer!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two Adorable Granddaughters and Other Fun in NYC

We are not only lucky to have two sons and their wives living in Manhattan, we also have two adorable granddaughters! One just happens to have an amazing back garden that makes life in a crazy, busy place like Manhattan, not only bearable but enjoyable! I had the chance to play with this cute little two-year-old ginger snap while her parents went out and we had a such a good time playing with umbrellas and “fishing” in the grate in their back yard.

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Is she cute enough?

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Our other family just moved to the Upper West side of NYC to a FIVE story walk-up that just also happens to be a ten minute walk to the greatest playground in the world: Central Park (which makes it hard to remember that you are in a massive big city). 

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There are some advantages to living in a place without an elevator when you live on the 5th floor.

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They are all getting their exercise daily!

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First, they have learned to send out their laundry and someone else delivers it to their door, washed, dried and neatly folded once a week:

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AND Trader Joes’ which is only a few blocks away will deliver groceries to your door for SIX DOLLARS!  Perfect!  Plus a branch of the City Library is right next door:

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Along with every possible thing you could want to eat from almost any country within two blocks of their house. We had breakfast at Sara Jane’s which was about a hundred steps away on the morning that we left! Take a look at Crab Cakes Benedict. YUM!

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Since this is the first time we’ve seen their new digs, we know the family would love to see what they’ve done. Eli and Julie are into style and design and since Eli is a fabulous photographer what they have done with this new place is pretty awesome! It’s one very long hall with basically five beautiful spaces on the way down the hall:

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And the most fun of all: Zara’s sleeping quarters so she can sleep in the dark:

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What a fun place. Perfect for them! And the best perk of all: their next door neighbors were dear friends in DC so they can trade babysitting big time. It was so 

Forgot to take a picture of their cute kitchen and Eli is probably shaking his head at some of these blurry pictures but we think they have found just the right spot for the next era of their lives! In addition Eli may be the first or will at least be near the first in his huge company to reach his quota for the year. Hooray for Eli, Julie and Zara in the Big Apple!

Just two other quick things that we did in our days in NYC. We did a speech for a group on Partnerships and the Entitlement Trap and had fun meeting with some terrific parents with the help of Tal, Eli and Julie.

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And afterward we got a great view from a rooftop near the event:

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And we went to one of the most fun plays on Broadway ever!

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That was five days in NYC/Philly that we guarantee we will never forget!