Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Making An Entrance


It has been a while since I wrote a blog about our home remodel. I hope you don't mind that I have come back to finish up the story.  Remember my blog has several purposes and documenting this big project is important to me.

If you do not want to receive these updates on our project, just let me know and I will take you off the blog list.

Life in our house has been very busy, but I FINALLY have a few minutes to complete the blog about the remodeling project.


Making An Entrance

I have always believed that the most important area of a home is the entrance. It sets the tone and tells your guests they are welcome.

The entrance to our new home in Florida had the potential to be very dramatic and after long discussions and much angst we decided to make some pretty big changes. New doors, new flooring, new light and the biggest change of all, new iron stair railings.

In this first blog about the entrance to our home I am only going to talk about the doors. The reason is that the stairs were so complex, they deserve an entire blog of their own. However the new doors are really nice and I don't want to overlook them.

Again, you need to realize that this blog has a dual purpose. ONE - to share with friends and family and TWO - to help me remember all the fun I was having doing this remodeling project, LOL.

The original doors were replaced with some that had more wood and were more dramatic. The final stain color matches the new hand rail on the staircase as well as the stair treads.

The old doors came out rather easily. 
Right before the old doors came out, this is how the porch looked.  Yes, that is a black toilet from our powder room.  
Doors and molding were stored in the garage.  We kept filling up and then emptying the garage with all kinds of building materials and supplies.
The doors came in a blonde tone. I was very anxious to get the dark stain on them.
Here they are installed prior to staining.
After staining.
Here we are putting on the new lock set.

I love the new entrance to our home and I am really going to enjoy changing out the flowers with the each season. WAIT - do the seasons change here in Florida?


This is the fun part.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Graduating Two Great Grandchildren

My parents are experiencing something not very many people are lucky enough to experience. They are witnessing the college graduation of two of their Great Grandchildren. Wow, how amazing.

I like to say I am also experiencing the graduation of two Grandchildren that are GREAT!

Mom and Dad are solid stock Midwest people. They live on a small acreage and still do all their own maintinance. They built their house. In fact, every nail in their house was put there by my dad, mom or a member of our family. One time I called home to talk to my mom (she was in her 70’s at the time) and she was on the roof helping my dad lay shingles. They are just “get it done” people.

The first graduation was for my grandson, BSJ.

BSJ attended the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree.

When BSJ was just a youngster I used to call him our first family geek. He always loved computers and constantly played strategy games. Every Christmas I search for a new game that will challenge him. He and Granddaughter MVL are nerds. This is actually a compliment. One time I took them to the grand opening of the Harry Potter experience at Disney World. Another time we shared the midnight opening of a new Harry Potter movie by texting together from a theatre in Virginia and a theatre in Florida AT MIDNIGHT.  Are we dedicated grandparents or what?

So how could we celebrate this milestone in a way that would show BSJ how proud we are of him? For daughter BHB’s college graduation I rented an entire beach house and the whole family came to celebrate. For BSJ’s graduation, I decided to do it again.

An added benefit was that my mom and dad love the beach, particularly mom. Over the years I have tried to invite mom to the beach where ever we happen to have a vacation condo. As you may know, I also love the beach.

We have some good summer memories of mom with her Great Grandchildren at the beach. I took a big envelope of photos of both grandkids to have out and enjoy during our celebrations. Some of these were from our beach trips.

Our beach house for BSJ’s celebration was right on Atlantic Beach just down the road from UNF. Mom and Dad flew out a few days early to spend the time with me, Hubby D, BSJ’s mom ASJ, as well as Granddaughter MVL who flew out just for graduation – she was still in the midst of finals.

It was a great time.

BSJ's mom was lucky and her seat was directly next to his row. She had a great view!
Granddaughter MVL, Mom, BSJ and Dad.

We are very proud of BSJ and it was wonderful to see him enjoying the moment with friends and family.

The graduation ceremonies started in the morning but BSJ's (Engineering and Computer Sciences) was at 4PM. After the ceremonies, we held a cookout on the patio overlooking the beach with friends and family. It was very special and a memory I will cherish.

Mom, me, my daughter and BSJ - Four Generations.

The next day after a long walk on the beach picking up a few more shells, we left the beach and drove to our home taking mom and dad along for a few more days of relaxation around the pool.

Mom and MVL for one last stroll down the beach. On this day, there were not very many shells.

The second graduation took place in Oklahoma where Granddaughter MVL attends the University of Oklahoma (OU).

MVL graduated with Special Distinction with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering degree. MVL was also chosen 2018 Engineer of the Year for Architectural Engineering and was asked by the Dean of the Engineering School to carry the banner into the graduation ceremonies for the Gallogy College of Engineering, School of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Mom and dad live close to OU so we held the family gathering at their home out in the woods. It was great to have so many family gather to celebrate. Those that could not attend BSJ’s graduation in Jacksonville also joined us in Oklahoma so we celebrated his graduation one more time. Party, party, party – this is fun!

MVL’s mom and brother came to Oklahoma from Oregon for MVL’s graduation even though grandson MB had to give up attending the National finals for a competition he won for Alternative Energy. His team came in second in the State of Oregon and went on to finals in Chicago. His mom moaned that her two smart kids were competing against each other for the limelight.

The gold collar signifies she graduated with Special Distinction.

There are benefits and draw backs to having our celebration at my parent’s home. Remember, we just stayed with them 3 weeks ago when MVL received her special award.

I feel really guilty that they do so much work in preparation and again after we leave. I have tried to to hire help for them but they insist that they can do it and do not want help. I do all I can while I am there, but they just keep on working.

The biggest benefit of seeing Granddaughter MVL and her friends at my parents home is that it is in a more casual and relaxed setting. MVL brought several friends over each night and they also came to her party on Sunday.
One night we even had a bit of karaoke at the piano.

Graduation was on Saturday and because of the size of the graduating class at OU, it was staggered into several ceremonies. MVL’s ceremony was held at 7PM that night. There was no time after the ceremony to hold a party so we opted for an “open house” the next day. This just happened to be Mother’s Day as well.

We had 4 generations at our celebration AGAIN. This was just too cool.

My mom, me, daughter MB and the graduate, MVL.

Son BJB surprised the family and arrived in time for the party and Mother's Day (YEA!!!). Here he is with both of the graduates and his faithful dog, Blaze.
MVL is already into her graduate studies and we will be doing this celebration again next May when she receives her Master’s Degree.

The parties are over, Hubby D is flying to California for work and I am on my way back to our home in Florida. Whew, I am exhausted!

Because Hubby D will be gone all week, I don’t have to cook for several days. After the marathon family gatherings over the past 5 weeks (I cooked for the crowd with mom every meal) I AM SO EXCITED.  I can replace the worn nail polish on my fingers and maybe hit a few golf balls.


P.S. As I am posting this blog, we are into what I call our "Birthday season." Son BJB, daughter BHB and I all have birthdays within 10 days of each other. We traditionally have angel food cake and home made ice cream for our birthdays. I will need to go on a diet when I get finished with all the cake and ice cream this year, but it is yummy!
The orchid was a gift to me from BHB and I made the cake to take to her birthday celebration!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Proud Moment

Hubby D and I just returned from Oklahoma and a great celebration for granddaughter ML.

A few weeks ago ML sent me an email with a big surprise.  She was selected the 2018 Outstanding Senior in Architectural Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. OU has 31,250 students and offer numerous engineering programs.

ML is a National Merit Finalist and studying at OU on an academic scholarship. To say we are proud of her is a big understatement. She is a great young woman and I am extremely proud of how hard she works to stay at the top of her class at OU.

Her graduation announcements will not only say she graduates with distinction, but that she also graduates as the 2018 Outstanding Senior in Architectural Engineering.


Hubby D and I were very fortunate to be able to fly to Oklahoma and attend the OU Campus Awards Program where ML was presented her award by the head of the Engineering Program, Dean Thomas L. Landers.

On the day we were preparing to leave for the trip, ML texted us that she also just received notification she would receive a scholarship to apply to her Master’s studies she has already started. Money and an award – priceless!

After the ceremony ML invited a few friends and we had a great cook out at my mom and dad’s house. It was an extremely enjoyable evening. The next day, ML took us to the airport and I didn’t even cry because I was still so happy about the award.

It was quite an experience and a memory I will cherish.

And, it snowed while we there.  I haven't seen snow in several years.

In just two weeks Hubby D and I will be off to attend the college graduation of our grandson, BSJ in Jacksonville.  We are also very proud of BSJ. Then in another 2 weeks we will return to Oklahoma for ML’s graduation ceremony.

Whew – I am exhausted already. But it is a good exhaustion! Having smart grand kids is really FUN!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rome Revisited

Our drive from Sorrento to Rome was not very long however we did pass several interesting architectural structures along the way.

When we arrived in Rome, we dropped the car off at the airport then headed to the Hotel Bernini Bristol located on the Piazzo Barberini. We were really looking forward to our hotel as it was on the same piazza where we had stayed in an AirBnB with granddaughter MVL. We knew the area very well and were looking forward to a wonderful time.

AH! Even on the last day, we have a great view!
Once again, a beautiful Murano chandelier is in our hotel lobby.
The view from the roof of the Hotel Bernini Bristol is famous. 

In the center Piazzo Barberini is the Triiton Fountain. We have pictures sitting there from our previous visit.

May 2016

November 2017
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Triton Fountain. “The Triton Fountain is one of those evoked in Ottorino Respighi's Fontane di Roma. The legend applied to Trevi Fountain has been extended to this: that any visitor who throws a coin into the water (while facing away from the fountain) will have guaranteed their return to Rome.

The setting of the Piazza Barberini has changed significantly since the seventeenth century. Engravings of the time and photographs from the nineteenth century show much lower buildings around the piazza, which would have made the fountain much more dramatic. However, it is a tribute to the artistic judgement of Bernini that even now, with tall buildings around the traffic-ridden piazza, that the Triton Fountain can still maintain a dramatic presence.”

After a late lunch, we headed out to visit some of the same sites we experienced with MVL. It was fun to talk about that trip and think about the fun we had in Rome previously.

Even in the cool weather, the Trevi Fountain was crowded. 
We tossed our coins in so we are guaranteed to come visit again.

When we passed by a crane at the Colosseum I had to take a picture and send it to LW.
It was a lovely day and we had a great time. As the sun disappeared, we walked the Spanish Steps.

Then we headed to another of Hubby D's finds, "Best Wine Bars in Rome" that happened to be very close to our hotel.

We did not want to but we needed to retire early to be ready for a very, very early departure for the Rome airport in the morning. Rome in a day, . .  but it was worth it.

The next morning we watched the sun rising over Rome from the windows of our taxi as we headed back to the United States.

There were a few things that surprised me on this trip.

Many of the bathrooms in Europe have motion censure lights and the light can go out before you are ready to leave.  One in Paris was so short I had to wave my arms in the air just to have light to wash my hands.

Spain was not as different as I had expected.

Nice, France is wonderful and we would like to go back someday.

Hubby D became enthralled with the Medieaval hillside towns in Italy with their legacy of time and culture.

He also commented that everything in Italy needs maintenance except the A1A highway. It was pristine and a toll road. Proving once again, the efficiency of private enterprise.

We had a bit of trouble figuring out this road sign as we would see it where there were roads and other cars.

It means road closed to vehicular traffic.

But don’t confuse it with this one.  It really threw us for a loop.  It means no traffic in both directions.

One nice surprise was that reasonably priced Italian wines are very good. You don’t need to spend on Brunel di Montalcino to drink good Italian wine.

We chose some wines, olive oils and balsamic vinegar to ship back and while we were picking them out, Hubby D reminded me to keep it under a full container size shipment.  LOL

However, we were not at all surprised that we could spend an entire month together and still be great friends. That we are -- really good friends!

It was a trip of a lifetime and we soaked up every minute.

Now, back to the real world.


During our layover in Germany we had one last treat -- a beer and pretzel in honor of our friend JA.