Being Mom

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One of the benefits to being retired military is you still have access to all the bases in the country. Many of these bases are located on some pretty darn good real estate, like Key West’s Truman Annex,

Truman Annex

which is home to some prime beachfront…

Truman Annex

and we had it all to ourselves…

Truman Annex

Truman Annex

And with the campsite set-up, we’re ready to hit the water!

Truman Annex

Adjacent to the base beach is a state park, which is separated by a not-so-foreboding fence…

Truman Annex

which we walked around to rent some snorkeling equipment…

Truman Annex Truman Annex

and do some snorkeling…

Truman Annex

While walking on one of the trails in the State Park, we happened across this signpost. Good to know where we are in relation to other cities around the world, and it makes a nice postcard picture!

Truman Annex

We had a great time at the beach today. It was nice and quiet, which is amazing considering it’s the middle of summer! Ah, the perks of military service. It’s days like this that make all the family separations worthwhile!

Truman Annex

So, we packed-up and headed back to our hotel, where we took a dip in the pool and enjoyed a cocktail (Shirley Temples for the boys) before getting ready for dinner in town. What a way to end a great vacation! Tomorrow, we’ll be heading home.

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Even on vacation, Cindy is working. Not too hard, though. πŸ™‚

Cindy Working

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One of the great advantages to being a member of the Freedom Boat Club is you have access to boats all over the country. There just happens to be a boat club affiliate here! I arranged a boat to take the family off-shore prior to our arrival, so the folks had the boat rready and waiting when we arrived…

Boat Waiting

and in just a few minutes we were ready to cast-off!

The Sea EO

And we’re off…

The Sea EO

Heading across the bay…

Boat going out

Into the inlet and out to sea! As you can see, Adam like’s to sit next to the Captain πŸ™‚

The inlet

Destination? Anywhere!

Out to sea

We spent the afternoon on the open water. I’d open the throttle and we’d jump the waves at about 50-mph The boys had a blast! Every now and then, I’d slow to idle and we’d just sit on the water rocking back and forth with the rhythm of the ocean. It was wonderful!

Alex would lounge…

Alex lounge

Adam would pace (LOL)…

Adam paces

Cindy would pose…

Cindy poses

Me and Cindy

Beautiful and sooo peaceful!

Pano of Palm Beach Shores

one the way back to the marina, we decided to stop and visit Peanut Island, which is situated in the middle of Palm Beach Shore Harbor…

The boys on Peanut Island

It’s a great place to swim and snorkel, but very rocky!

Cindy and the boys on Peanut Island

This is the life!

Me and the boys on Peanut Island

We had a good time swimming and exploring the island, but alas, the day was drawing to a close, so we reluctantly packed-up the boat…

Loading the boat

and motored-off toward the marina. This time Alex sat next to the Captain…

Me and Alex

What a great day! And did I mention, it was my birthday? πŸ˜‰

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It’s the last day of our mini-vacation and what better place to spend it than at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? On the ride into the park the tram director commented, “It’s a jungle, not a zoo”, which captured a chuckle from the crowd.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

The photographer liked Alex’s Sorcerer Mickey hat and wanted to draw some attention to it…

Animal Kingdom Entrance

The first order of business today was a visit to Africa…

Africa

We were waiting for the “Festival of the Lion King” show and spotted this drum-beating native on stilts, who talked to the boys as he passed…

African Musician African Musician

After the Lion King show, we made our way to the Animal Kingdom’s new exhibit, Pandora – The World of Avatar…

Pandora

Complete with the Ayram alusΓ¬ng (a.k.a. floating mountains)…

Pandora Floating Mountain

and an AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform)…

AMP AMP and boys

and who could visit Pandora without sampling the local cuisine?

Pandora Lunch

Mmmm…

Pandora Lunch

One the way out, the boys and I stopped for a photo outside one of the Resources Development Administration’s buildings…

RDA Building

and Alex posed for a visitor pass…

Visitor Pass

We had a good time in Pandora, but we had a Safari to get to in Africa, so we left behind the mythical land of Avatar and headed back to Africa. Soon we were on the truck and off into the jungles of Tanzania on our Kilimanjaro Safari…

Kilimanjaro Safari

It’s always fun visiting the animals, like the hippos enjoying a swim and the giraffe’s resting on the Savanna…

Hippo under water Giraffe resting on Savanna

By the time the safari ended, it was clouding up and getting ready to storm. We had one more ride we wanted to get to today: The Expedition Everest roller coaster.

Expedition Everest

Well, me and Adam, anyway, as Alex and Mom aren’t too fond of the roller coasters. Anyway, we took off to Asia, while mom and Alex were off to Discovery Island to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show. We had a few minutes before our FastPass kicked-in, so Adam and I took in the sights…

Adam at Expedition Everest

Soon, it started to rain, so we donned our ponchos and got in line for Everest. Although the rain wasn’t too bad, the thunder was loud and lightening in the area caused them to shut-down the ride as we were just about to board the roller coaster! Adam and I hung-out for almost 30-minutes when a break in the storm allowed the ride to open-up again. Whoo hoo…

Expedition Everest

After three or four groups had gone, the lightening caused them to close the ride again and it wouldn’t reopen for the rest of the day. Whew! We barely made it!! By this time, the rain had let-up a bit and we made our way to the exit.

Exit

This evening, we dined at the Disney Polynesian Restaurant and watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach on Seven Seas Lagoon. What a great time!

Polynesian Restaurant

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Storms are in the forecast today, so we make a short day of our visit to the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, otherwise known as EPCOT. The nice thing about having annual passes to Disney is you don’t feel like you have to get in as much “fun” as you can while you’re here. After all with a day pass, once the day is over, so is your fun. We’ll often visit one of the parks for just a few hours, then spend the rest of the day at the pool or doing some other activity. We love the flexibility it brings.

Anyway, we slept in a bit this morning, but the weather was pretty nice, so here we are…

Adam at EPCOT Alex at EPCOT

There’s a new “Frozen Ever After” ride in Norway in the world showcase we wanted to experience. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get FastPassed, so I waited in line while Cindy took the boys on something else. The wait was almost an hour, and Cindy and the boys arrived just in time to get on the ancient Norwegian boat for the ride through Arendelle (which essentially was a Fast Pass for them, right–Dad, the physical Fast Pass).

The ride was interesting (and fun) and wasn’t your typical Disney animatronics…

Anna and Elsa

Alex at EPCOT

When the ride was over, the boys wanted to go again, but I wasn’t up to waiting another hour in line (Dad-as-Fast-Pass duty gets old pretty quickly). So, we had lunch in China (next to Norway, of course) and then toured the World Showcase for a bit. It was clouding up by this time and the thunder was rumbling. We decided to make our way to the exit before the storm made it to the park.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing games in the hotel room. This evening, we had a great dinner at Delmonico’s, where the inside of the men’s bathroom door says, “Women”, which momentarily threw me for a loop!

Delmonico's

HA!

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So, it’s Day 2 of our long Disney weekend and today we took in one of the water parks: Typhoon Lagoon…

Typhoon Lagoon Entrance

We’ve never taken advantage of Disney’s water parks before, so this year I included them in our annual passes. I’m glad I did because we had a blast! That was, of course, after we were through taking pictures…

Entering Typhoon Lagoon Entering Typhoon Lagoon

and a couple more…

Typhoon Lagoon Entrance

One with a frame…

Typhoon Lagoon Entrance

And finally, the FISH HEAD…

Typhoon Lagoon Entrance

So, we F-I-N-A-L-L-Y get to the beach and set-up our chairs…

Chairs

then we hit the pool…and not just ANY pool, it’s one of the world’s largest outdoor wave pools! It actually knocked me down and carried me several feet! We LOVED it!

Boys at Typhoon Lagoon Typhoon Lagoon

Mom and Alex

Dad and the boys

There were also several waterslides, one was family sized and we all road in it together. Alex was especially fond of this one…he liked it so much we had to ride it twice!

Big Raft

We actually closed-down the water park!

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Summer is in full-swing, so that means (at least) a couple of trips to one of our favorite place on Earth: Disney World. So, we arrived at our Hilton Grand Vacations resort about 3:00 this afternoon, unpacked, and hopped back in the family truckster to head over to the Magic Kingdom.

Given that we were arriving late in the day, there wasn’t the huge crowd of people entering the park, which made for a smooth and rapid entry to Main Street!

Family at Magic Kingdom

The boys even got to meet on of the famous Disney celebrities on the way in, and Adam, as usual, isn’t thrilled about having to stop for pictures…

The Boys and Tink

We had a couple of Fast Passes this evening…the first one is split between Space Mountain for me and Adam and the Buzz Lightyear ride for mom and Alex (since mom and Alex don’t really care for Space Mountain)…

Next to the People Mover, this is probably Alex’s favorite!

Buzz Ride

While Adam is the roller coaster king (and his dad is the jester :-))

Space Mountain

We also had a passes to The Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, which lately have been hard to get! The last couple of times we’ve visited the Magic Kingdom, we were unable to get Fast Passes for this ride. Alex was very disappointed during our last visit because we couldn’t ride, you’d think he’d have been thrilled this time! Well, he was until we got ready to board, then he had second thoughts. He still went, but he wasn’t too happy…

The Mine Train

The fireworks started just as we got on the Mine Train and it was really cool watching them from that vantage point! After it was over, Adam naturally wanted to go on again, while Alex said he’d had enough! So, we just sat back and watched the fireworks over Beast’s castle…

Fireworks Fireworks Fireworks

It was a GREAT show!

Fireworks

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Yesterday was the boys’ last day of school and Sumer Vacation has officially started. I had some work to do in SW Florida, so Cindy and the boys were able to join me. As usual, while I worked, they soaked-up some sun. And since we were only a few miles from Lido Key, well…

At the beach

The boys had a great time in the water…and Alex even got in a little body surfing!

At the beach At the beach

This is Florida Living!!

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Well, our first year in the scouts is coming to an end. Adam and Alex, and the rest of the Den 1 boys, have been working hard to earn their Tiger rank, completing “adventures” and earning belt loops…

Belt Loops

and tonight they successfully advanced. The ceremony was held at the Pack Meeting with a ceremonial bridge crossing that symbolized their transition from Tiger Scout to Wolf. I stood at the entrance to the bridge and removed their orange Tiger neckerchief, while Cindy, our Den Leader, met them on the other side to put on their new yellow Wolf neckerchief.

Alex crosses the bridge…

Alex Crosses Alex Neckerchief

then Adam crosses…

Adam Crosses Adam Neckerchief

Nice work, boys! We’re very proud of you.

Tiger Rank

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Today is not just any Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day! The boys have been especially good this weekend (“good” being relative πŸ™‚ ). Still, they were very sweet with all the little gifts they made for Mom this week. Cindy was elated when she received these giant Mother’s Day cards…

Mother's Day Cards

Yep, Mother’s Day. The one day we celebrate all the hugs, kisses, love, joy, tears, worries, and fears that come with motherhood. We also appreciate all the band-aids, groceries, meals, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, minivan rides, homework help, school volunteering, and most of all, patience with Dad while he sits in the recliner watching baseball or some old movie on Turner Classics (and when she fetches me a beer, it’s always cold and it never arrives unopened!).

Yeah, I’m stereotyping BIG TIME! (well, sorta, because there’s truth in all of this).

Cindy is also an entrepreneur and has her own R+F business, which is growing. We so often overlook the fact that Moms aren’t always just moms. They don’t just run a household, they very well may run a business, too. So, today, we also celebrate the “momtrepreneur” who balances the demands of all the work at home with, well, just work.

Moms Rule

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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