Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yo Ho Yo Ho..A pirate's life for me...

You may not know this, but my dad is a pirate...Yep, you read that right.  El Papitan, as we like to call him.  And he's the coolest pirate I know.  He leads a krewe of about 20 of us as we invade the city of Tampa each year with thousands of other pirates, armed with cherry bombs, tattoos, beads, and maybe even a little rum.  Gasparilla 2012 is upon us and I cannot wait to celebrate with my very best friends and family.  It's a time for us to act like we're young again, partying all day and screaming for beads as if they were made of real gold.   We laugh, we yell, and if we're lucky, we make it to dinner (although I've yet to do so....)
This year our friends are flying in from Ohio for their 4th Gasparilla, and we've added other new Krewe members as well.  I am looking so forward to forgetting about all of the stress of our everyday lives and just having some good ol' fashioned pirate fun.  My man is going to be in town, my brother and sister in law are coming up, my parents will be there, and I will be surrounded by the best friends I've ever had.  Can't ask for much more than that.
To my fellow pirates, a great big ARRRGGGHHH to get the weekend festivities started off right!
(excuse the poor quality pics)
Our very first pirate experience.  1st Gasparilla for the Daughertys/Ryans/Slaters.  

Our Krewe last year.  Except for the guy and girl dressed like actual pirates.  No idea who the heck they are : )

The Jose Gaspar ship coming into the city.  

Gasparilla 2011 , showing off our awesome bracelets.

Our 2nd Gasparilla, rainy, rainy, rainy.  
Ahoy mateys - Littlefoot (my pirate name)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


A few lessons learned during my trip up North with Gary....Lesson number one, I learned that all the cool kids say P'cola (sounds like picola) and don't bother with the rest of it.  Second, I learned that there really is a place called "Florabama" which holds a church service on Sundays complete with bloody marys and picnic tables.   Now that's my kind of place.  It is literally located in both Florida and Alabama.  Kinda cool.  And lastly, I was reassured that there is no beach quite like Ft Myers Beach.  Never has been, never will be any that compare.  Don't get me wrong, the sand and public beaches were nice and well kept in Perdido Key,Orange Beach and even Pensacola Beach. However,  I wasn't all that impressed with much else.  Not many shops or restaurants or cool little bars like "The Cottage" or "Beached Whale".  Perhaps it will just take time to get to know the area a little better.  So for now, I'll keep an open mind.

Gary and I were successful in finding him an apartment (yay!) although it took up the majority of our time while we were there.  His new place is right by the base where he'll be working and I made sure there was a WalMart nearby (hey, WalMart is important, people!) Not to mention, his nephew lives just a mile or two away and he'll be able to visit them often.  The apartment will come furnished with everything he'll need.  All he'll have to bring is clothes and food, so that is a big relief.  He won't have to mess with moving any furniture or buying any linens or dishes or things like that.  They're going to put bunk beds in the extra bedroom so the kids will have a cool place to sleep when we go to visit this spring and summer.  And there's a pool and playground at the complex to keep them entertained.   We both think he'll be happy there, and it's a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.

When we weren't apartment hunting, Gary and I truly enjoyed being together.  I think that so often when you are married with young kids, you forget how to be husband and wife and can only identify as "mommy" or "daddy".  We haven't spent 4 whole days together by ourselves since before we had McKenna.  Almost seven years ago!  It was good for us to re-connect and remember why we're here in the first place.   We had a two hour dinner one night at a restaurant.  That never happens.  Another day we just got in the car and took off driving down the beach, listening to music WE WANTED to listen to and not "Toy Story 3" on the kids' dvd player in the back seat.  We stopped to put our feet in the sand and take pictures.   He also took me to meet the guys he'll be working with and see the buiding he'll be renovating.  I feel better knowing them and being able to picture now where he is when I'm talking to him.  There's a "comfort" in familiarity and it eases my mind a little bit.

Most importantly, we laughed.  We had fun.  We let go of most the stress that's been hovering over us for the past month or two.  We put it aside and took the time to just "be".   We trust in God that He will get us to where we need to be, even if this isn't what we had necessarily planned.  This morning, I said goodbye to him, and hugged him tight and felt happy for the first time in a long time.

Half in Florida, Half in Alabama.  There were about 300 people at the church service.

Watched the sunset in downtown P'cola

He searched for just the right shells to take home to Mac.  Such a good daddy.

The beach at Perdido Key

At Quietwater Beach

Look close on the right, there were tons of fish surfing each wave, very neat!

See you soon Pensacola.  Take care of him for me : )

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hello Again

When I started this blog, I thought I'd be posting every day.  Boy was I wrong.  I figured it would be theraputic to release my stress by writing on my blog each night....But now here we are, halfway through January and I've written once or twice.  There is just no time!
The new year has gotten off to a fast start for us.  I've been busy with my photography, finishing up my first wedding shoot, getting McKenna and Michael back into our routine, and prepping for Gary to head to Pensacola.  We are heading there this weekend for about 4 days to find him an apartment.  Kind of weird to be apartment hunting for your husband when you are in a perfectly happy marriage....But, this is the hand we've been dealt and now it's time to move forward.  I'm hoping that by visiting the area where he's going to be, I'll be able to get my head around it and accept the change a little better.
This weekend will be the first time I've been away from my little ones for more than a night.  Well, actually, I was in Ireland for 10 days when McKenna was 1 but that's it.  Never been away from my little man.  Not sure what I'll do without hearing them say "Mommy!" first thing every morning or Michael say "I love you sweet Mommy" each night at bedtime.  I won't have to pack lunch or play with Toy Story action figures or chase them around our "loop" in the kitchen. What on Earth will I do with myself?!  What will I watch on tv if I'm not watching Nick Jr.  ?
I'm grateful to have parents that are willing and able to keep the kids for us.  They are beyond excited to spend 5 days with MawMaw and Pappy.  In fact, I'm wondering if they'll want to come home when I get back....I'm sure they'll have lots of fun and do all the cool things that they don't usually get to do at home...That's what grandparents are for, afterall, right?!  My kids are so lucky. They hit the "grandparent lotto" with my parents.  I hope someday I can be as good to my grandkids as they are to mine.
Tonight, the four of us spent some time out in the backyard before dinner was ready.  Just goofing around while I took some pictures.  I know Gary's only going to be gone for a short time, but right now, it seems like forever.  I just want to hold on to the moments that he is here now, and bottle them up so that when I miss him, I can take them each out and remember.  Remember how good of a daddy he is and remember that he is my rock and together, we can get through this.
Here are some of my "moments" from tonight...

McKenna is such a joy.  She smiles and my heart is happy.

Okay I admit it.  He has me wrapped around his finger....

Whaddup? !

Hangin' by her toes, she is so proud that she can do this now.

I'm beginning to see more and more of these eye rolls....Hmmm...Not sure how I feel about this.

A rare photo with mommy : )

I love this picture....He is the good in our life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012....Changes, Challenges, and even the chills!

Well, here we are.  2012.  hard to believe, isn't it?  the new year is upon us, and for the Slater family it means big changes.
Some of you already know this, but for those who don't....we found out in late December that Gary's job is going to be taking him to work in Pensacola for much of the coming year.  He'll be leaving in a week or two and will be living there until the end of September.  His company will fly him home once a month for weekend visits, and I'm sure we'll both be making the 8 hour drive there and back often...While it does have some advantages for Gary in his career, it's going to be a pretty big adjustment for the kids and I.  We are used to having Daddy there every night for dinner and bath and bedtime and playtime, and when I think about him being gone, I just can't get my head around it.  I miss him already and he hasn't even left yet.
They say that God only gives you what you can handle, so I'm trying to have faith in Him and trust that He knows best.  For now, we are just asking for prayers for our family to adjust to the change and we are trying to do as much as we can to make this easy for the kids.  McKenna is looking forward to visiting Daddy at a new beach and seeing a part of Florida we've never been to.  Gary and I have a strong marriage and a healthy relationship and  I know we'll get through it.  But still, sending some positive thoughts our way couldn't hurt, so thank you in advance!!!  I read a quote the other day that spoke to me and what we're going through.  It went like this..."Sometimes good things fall apart so that even better things can fall into place."  That's the way I'm trying to look at this and so far, so good.

Ok enough about that and on to a lighter topic...It's winter in Florida.  Last night we actually had our coldest temps so far!  We were below freezing in some areas around here and I even got some pics of the ice on our grass.  Crazy!  One of my most favorite things to see when it gets cold here is the way that people cover up their plants and bushes with blankets so they don't die when it dips below freezing.  Driving down our street you can see house after house with comforters and sheets covering all of their landscaping.  It's quite a sight.  The first winter we lived here, I remember telling Gary, "You should see our neighbors yard, they have their laundry hanging out to dry all over the front yard."  He just laughed at me and explained that people here try to keep their stuff from being killed by the cold.  And now, 4 years later, as I sit here typing this, we have blankets covering our orange tree out back!
McKenna keeps asking if it's going to snow, and it breaks her heart when I tell her, "probably not."  For now, she'll just have to settle for the fake snow we see at Disney World  : )  This morning for school she wore three layers: a winter coat, a hat, gloves, and a scarf and was still complaining of being cold.  Good thing the winter here only lasts about a week.  Back in the low 70's this weekend and we'll be headed outdoors somewhere to enjoy the gorgeous, cooler, weather.  Because in a few months, we'll be begging for lower temperatures and a breeze to cool us off...

Michael wearing his winter hat for the first time this year : )

A house down the street has their bushes out front covered up.  This is what every house looks like on my street. 
Our precious orange tree from Gary's mom....Hoping it survives...

ICE!!!!!!!  it was on our grass this morning.
© Jana Slater Photography
CoffeeShop Designs