Florida Vacation - Naples, FL

Our home base for our vacation was in Naples Florida, at a country club condominium about 25 minutes inland from the Naples beaches.  Our flight arrived in the early evening so by the time we got our luggage, or rental car, and made the drive from Fort Myers to Naples we decided to do nothing more than grab something to eat and hit the grocery store.  We had every intention of cooking as many of our meals as possible, and spent at nearly $300 on groceries for the week, although that also included many 6 packs of beer and at least one bottle of wine.  Considering that we would spend an average of $50 per meal if we ate out, we decided that $300 was a way better.

The next day - our first full day - it was raining, but that didn't stop up from visiting the small "local"pool that was just down the street from our condo. 

DH attempted to do 60 laps of the tiny pool and around lap 55 he stopped because it started thundering and because he was ready to throw up from exhaustion.  I did 12 laps and felt like I got a good workout from it, so even though he was disappointed in coming in a little short of his goal, 55 laps is definitely no joke. 

We spent most of the afternoon just relaxing and getting into the spirit of vacation.  DH started reading his first recreational book in years, and I paged through the southwest Florida section of the Fodor's travel guide that I checked out of the library (which ended up being an amazing resource that we used to plan nearly every outing, in addition to what I had already researched on Trip Advisor.)

In the evening, even though it was still cloudy, we decided to venture to this ocean.   This is when we started to realize that inland was always dark and gloomy, and it was often raining.  But as you drove near the ocean the clouds thinned, the blue sky appeared, and it was usually sunny and beautiful.  It was crazy, and consistently beautiful on the beach and gloomy inland where our condo was.  We started calling the condo area Gloomsville. 

The first beach we visited was Lowdermilk Beach.  Although this picture doesn't really show it, this was a beach that was lined with lots of hotels and beach houses.  It was very populated but very beautiful in the evening.  In fact, it ended up being the most populated beach we visited during our time there, but since we were just there for a walk, it didn't matter anyway.

We saw some very ugly ducks in the park area of the beach, as well as their ugly ducklings.

After the beach, we strolled around the Naples upscale shopping areas, peering into restaurants and shops.  We stopped to get ice cream at one point but when I saw the prices - $7.50 for a small milkshake! - we decided to stop at the store on our way home and buy a carton of ice cream.  That decision served us well for the rest of the week....

San Diego, CA - My New (City) Love

In mid-July I was sent to San Diego California by my workplace for a conference on a specific piece of software that we will be implementing soon.  The trip was quick but it didn't take me long to realize one very important thing - I love San Diego.  It is the city of my dreams.

There's little to say about the conference - it was a software conference, after all and not very exciting to anyone except for those who are familiar with the software (I did enjoy it a great deal) - but I fell in love with the weather of San Diego. Every single day it was blue skies, bright sun, wispy clouds, high temperatures in the mid 70s and low temperatures in the low 60s.  No humidity. None.  Nada.

Every spring, and sometimes in the fall, when the Pittsburgh weather is at that most perfect point of warm, humidity free days, I go onto Facebook and ask the world where I can find weather like this year-round.  Many of the responses have focused on San Diego and other southern California cities.

But, having never been there myself, I was skeptical.  How great could it really be there?  The grass is always greener, right?

The answer - it IS that great.  The grass is green.  Really REALLY green.  And thick and lush, and well watered (by sprinklers, of course) and warm and green.

We were on the campus of the University of San Diego, which is located on a little mountain and from one end of campus has a view that overlooks Mission Bay and has a stunning view of the gorgeous sunsets.

Can you tell I fell in love?

Palm trees, blue skies, bright sun, no humidity.  Near the water, near the beach, no humidity.  Cool nights and warm days.  City atmosphere and life, Mexican food everywhere you look.  No humidity.

So DH and I have a new life goal - retire in San Diego.  As we continue to work to pay off our debts - at this point down to just our mortgage - as long as we can continue to live simply (harder said that done as DH loves to look at new houses that are usually way out of our price range) we see a future where we're going to be able to do things like retire in California if that's what we want to do.  Florida is always the go-to destination for east coast retirees, and I will admit that a 2.5 hour flight is way better than the 6 hour one to the west coast.  But once you're there, it's totally worth it.  Compare my list of San Diego qualities above with the this list from our recent trip to Florida - mosquitoes, humidity, alligators, and more humidity. Yeah, SD wins out - big time.

San Diego - I promise you this, some day I will be back. 

Big Boy Food

At EH's one year check up, we got the new orders - no more baby food.  It's all big boy food from here on out.  (Well, except for the baby food that I had already made - you better believe I'm not just throwing that stuff away.) 

The goal is to have him feed himself at every meal, as much as possible.  This was initially quite a challenge for us, because we were coming off of a week of vacation, a week with company, and then weeks of crazy work hours that involved next to zero nights of cooking on my part.  Needless to say, we didn't really have much food in the house that we wanted to feed a baby, unless we decided that we were ok with giving him Domino's pizza, tortilla chips, or hamburgers.  (We weren't.) 

So we had to improvise, then the diced-up tomatoes straight out of the garden - yay garden! - that he got that first night for dinner. 

Since then DH has done some grocery shopping (without me, since I worked allllll weekend long this past weekend) and EH has been happily downing bananas, carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, eggs, cheese, chicken and beans the past few nights. So far he seems to be enjoying it all.

We are also transitioning to him to whole milk as of this weekend.  For now, he's still getting formula at bedtime, partially because we know that it fills him enough to get him at least 10 hours of nighttime sleep, and partially because you better believe that we're not going to throw away that expensive formula that we have left over.  He's going to finish it, and then he can be on whole milk permanently.  The good news is that in terms of quantity of ounces, we were right on target regarding the amounts of milk he should be getting, so no change there.

Once he's fully on milk and accepting that happily we will move on to the real challenge - getting rid of the bottles and moving to sippy cups.  EH loooooves himself his bottles (as I think most babies do) and does not seem to be particularly fond of sippy cups so I'm terrified of how that is going to affect his naps and naptime when we finally do force that transition. 

Updated Slideshow Link

It recently came to my attention that a lot of the pictures get cut off in the slideshow that is embedded directly into my blog.  So, if you want to see the video without the sides of the screen being cut off, you can go directly to the YouTube link to view it there.

EH's First Year of Life

He's One!

EH turned 1 this past Saturday.  We celebrated with family and friends and although it started off a bit rocky - with EH choosing that particular day to decide to skip his afternoon nap - we got him to sleep, finished setting up and had a wonderful party that included lots of food, cake, presents and even a clown.

I have a lot of pictures that I hope to upload soon, but I will warn you - it's August which means I'm working late on weekdays and all through the weekend.  So, it might be a while before I get the recaps up, but they're coming, I promise.

In the meantime, I wanted to share the slideshow that DH and I created chronicling EH's first year of life. It's 7 minutes, which probably seems a little long to anyone other than his parents or close family, but I think the video is just precious and totally worth the time.  Seeing him on day 1 of his life to the morning of his birthday - where the video ends - is just so surreal.  I can't believe we made it a whole year and we're all still pretty much sane!

Love him... Happy Birthday EH!