PME (Fish Expo) is Right Around the Corner!

Yesterday afternoon, I pulled into my driveway with Eva and baby Valerie. I hopped out of my Mommy Bus and went immediately into G’s home office, where he was working on his computer.

“There’s a baby boutique over in Barkley,” I announced.

“I’ve been there before,” I continued, “But not in a while. I heard today that they’d changed locations. Just down the block a bit. Anyway, I went in there with Valerie before I picked up Eva. I wanted to get Valerie a teething necklace. Amber recommended the necklace. Anyway, the new store is amazing! They have the cutest things. And it’s bigger than it was.

“Anyway, they also have this new thing where they can make personalized wall prints, ornaments, and clothes! It was so cute! I was just going to get Valerie a personalized onesie, but then I decided the big kids might feel left out, so I got each of them a shirt as well. They all have fish pictures and their own names on the shirts!”

“Look!” I said. I held up Eva’s shirt and smiled. I tucked Val’s onesie and Vincent’s shirt under my arm.

G turned from his computer and looked at the shirts.

“Those are neat,” he said. “Where’d you get those?”

Yep.

True story!

George definitely has a lot on his mind. The major repowering of a fishing vessel, the beginnings of what will be the 2012-13 Dungeness crab season, and the switching out of flatbed trucks, as well as the seemingly never-ending task of paying of bills and working on taxes.

There are some fun things coming up, though, like the awesome Pacific Marine Expo (aka Fish Expo)! I know a lot of people from the worlds of fishing and writing that will be there, and I can’t wait to see everyone. Some of your favorite writers and bloggers (Robin Blue, Lori French, Spike Walker, Dean Adams, Tele Aadsen) will be at the conference speaking, performing, and signing books!

As for me, I’ll be participating in a roundtable presentation on fishing families and signing copies of my book, Captain of Her Crew: The Commercial Fishing Mom’s Guide to Navigating Life at Home (available as an e-book and in paperback).

You can check out the full schedule for the Author’s Corner right here. From this link, you can also access all of the other special events (conferences, contests, vendors, booths, sponsors, happy hours) that will be happening at PME! I’ll be writing more about all of this in the coming weeks.

In other writing news, my Amazon.com author page is now complete. Click on the link to give it a look!

I hope everyone has a restful and/or productive weekend. I’m hoping for restful. :)

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Vincent in his customized fish shirt.

Fall Means Transition Time for the Commercial Fishing Family

It’s definitely that time of year again…fall. I see the wind blowing leaves all over the neighborhood and I stand in the window, watching white caps roar across the bay. The rain pours, the kids are in school, and George is long gone down to the harbor and the boat in preparation for the Dungeness crab season.

When the fisherman returns to work, whether he’s at sea or just down at the harbor, it’s a somewhat annoying transition for us here at home. Commercial fishing wives everywhere know what I’m talking about! Our husbands are technically “home,” but not home. They’re home, but distracted. They’re home, but not available.

In the last couple of weeks, G and I have had a succession of conversations like this:

Me: “Oh! I see you’re going to work this morning. Can you run the big kids to school on your way so I can stay here with the baby?”

G: “I can take one, but not two. I’m driving the flatbed.”

Me: “I’m getting a ‘low tire pressure’ message in my car. Can you meet me at the tire place so I can get it fixed without sitting there with the baby for three hours?”

G: “Um, I can’t today. Or tomorrow. Maybe Thursday. Oh, wait. I can’t then, either.”

Me: “Well, great. Then I guess my tire will just explode while I’m on the freeway.”

Me: “Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”

G: “Uh, at some point. I don’t know when.”

Yep. That time of year has definitely arrived. Summer, as phenomenal as it was, is a distant memory. Time to forge ahead through the next nine months of fishing so we can get to next summer. The best bet is to jump on board (so to speak) and accept that it’s that time of year again and adjust accordingly.

I sat down and made some notes this weekend on how I can maneuver this adjustment so that I don’t feel resentful and bummed out. Actually, I didn’t sit down. I walked around the house holding my iPhone and baby Valerie while I talked to Siri, my faithful assistant, who took dictation. Here’s what we came up with:

1.  Get up thirty minutes before everyone else in the house. This way, I can sit in peace and quiet for a few moments and mentally gear up for the day ahead before the questions, demands, and obligations of a busy family set in.

2.  Create a schedule that works. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know this is a big one for me. Last year, the schedule I created for the children and me was not a success. I was determined to do better this year. So far, it has worked very well. I have, however, run into one glitch surrounding the day and time of Eva’s dance class. After two weeks, I knew it was not going to work for me or our family of young children throughout the stormy fall and winter ahead. So, I had to make the tough choice and switch dance studios. The good news is that Eva still gets to attend dance, and we’ll all be home for dinner at a normal time.

3.  Plan dinners, however loosely. G is the better cook at our house, so when he’s home, he enjoys preparing most of our dinners. Now that he is not available to do that, it’s my task. I hauled out my cookbooks, Pampered Chef stoneware, crockpot, and visited the store to buy the kinds of things I know how to make. So far, so good. I don’t plan an official menu for the week, but I do have some idea of what we’ll be having. I’ve even cooked the dinner ahead of time on some days when I had a moment, and warmed it up at dinnertime.

4.  Cozi. I am still in love with the Cozi app. It saw us through an entire summer of doctor appointments and trip schedules, and I am using it now to enter in the kids’ activities and my own appointments. I enter our appointments in the Cozi calendar wherever I am, and G and I can both easily reference what’s going on each day. He can double-check the day and time choir, dance, speech therapy, etc. are on, and there are no “I didn’t know that was today!” surprises.

5.  Don’t count on help from spouse. I can’t rely on G or assume he will be around to help out with meals, pick-ups, drop-offs, or anything else. He’s back to work, and it saves me a lot of frustration if I accept that. I must outsource other help if I need it, or simply do it myself. I’m lucky that George is so helpful when he’s home; but when he’s not, I have to quickly transition.

6.  Keep the house warm and smelling good. This creates a feeling of coziness and relaxation. I’ve put Scentsy burners in every room of the house. I don’t turn them all on at once, but they are there in case I want them. If I’m working in the living room, I turn that one on. If I’m folding laundry in the bedroom, I turn on that one. Watching TV in the family room? I plug in that one. I read recently that if you are prone to anxiety, the scent of Jasmine will work like a valium in promoting calm. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m going to.

7.  Plan time wisely. I have about ninety minutes of “free time” three days a week, when Valerie is napping and I’m not running kids around. I have to decide what to do in that time. Learn new Jazzercise routines to teach? Write a blog post? Flop on the couch? Return e-mails? Once I decide, I need to stick with the decision and not spend the ninety minutes flipping from one task to the next and accomplishing nothing.

8.  Most past failures. If I’ve hit a roadblock, a glitch, forgotten something, or otherwise, I just forget it and move quickly forward. Hey, we’re not new at this, and we’ve got a long nine months ahead to try again and do better. Plenty of time!

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Today Marks Ten Years of a Commercial Fishing Marriage

One morning twelve years ago, I drive into the Fred Wahl Marine Construction ship yard in Reedsport, Oregon, underneath an overcast sky that threatens rain. A storm is blowing in off the coast, and the blustering wind warns its impending arrival.

I am a young lady of 26, living in a new city away from home for the first time, and this is one of my first big assignments as a freelance writer. I’ve traveled through the dark of night to the Oregon Coast and the ship yard, where I’ll conduct an interview for National Fisherman magazine.

The yard is quiet on Saturday morning; the welders, pipe fitters, electricians, and carpenters are all at home. I follow Fred Wahl as he strides briskly across the yard to the newly constructed fishing boat I am here to ask questions about and take pictures of. I follow about ten paces behind, bowed against that relentless wind. Fred leans over the edge of the dock, cups his hand around his mouth, and shouts something to someone down on the boat.

I halt, grab my ponytail holder from around my wrist, fight the wind to tie my hair back, then dig around my backpack for my camera.

When I look up, I see that a second man, George (the captain of the new boat, whom I’m supposed to interview), has joined Fred on the dock.

Even with his hands stuffed inside his jeans pockets, hunched against the wind, I can see that George stands over six feet tall. His eyes squint against the gusts and his long-sleeved gray work shirt billows as he peers toward me. I recognize at once that his is the face of one who has spent years in the Bering Sea. It’s one of strength, experience, and wisdom; the kind that only grows more handsome with age.

I snap several pictures of the two men with the boat in the background, and then Fred makes his exit back across the lot to the office. George climbs back down to the boat and holds out his arm to help me aboard. Once on deck, I dig around in my pack again, this time for my recorder.

I ask questions—questions I don’t understand even as I ask them—about hull plating, keel, and autoline baters. George answers each of my questions in a low, calm, patient voice. His tone is oddly soothing, like a sedative. I feel strangely at ease, lulled into a sort of tranquility, even as I struggle with my recorder, which suddenly doesn’t seem to be working properly. I fumble through my pack again, this time for replacement batteries.

“What’s your last name?” I ask.

“Schile,” he says. “S-C-H-I-L-E. It’s German.”

I look up from my notebook and say it’s a nice last name.

After about an hour, the interview and boat tour is finished. I move to the edge of the vessel, embarrassed for my muddled interview and planning for a quick departure out of Reedsport. The weather has escalated; heavy rain now accompanies the wind, and dark clouds loom overhead.

George follows me across the deck and stops midway, leaning casually against a post.

“Have you had lunch?” he asks.

I pause before I answer, knowing I should really be on my way. I recall how Fred cautioned me about the weather earlier that day.

“You really shouldn’t drive the coast roads in this weather,” he’d warned. “It isn’t safe. You should stay here.”

“No,” I finally answer George. “I have not had lunch.”

We climb off the boat and walk over to the parking lot where George unlocks a shiny new Jeep Grand Cherokee and holds the passenger door open for me. When he starts the engine, the tranquil voice of Natalie Merchant from one of my favorite CDs flows from the speakers. I’m instantly transported back a few years to my starboard-side bunk on my family’s fishing boat in Alaska, where I listened to Natalie Merchant each night to lull me to sleep after long days of fishing.

George and I sit at a table for two in the local café and talk as we wait for bowls of clam chowder to arrive. We speak of fishing, of families, and of weather.

“You know,” says George. “Fred’s right. You should stay.”

I know I should go on down the road to my next story, but I’m enveloped by the warmth emanating from both the café and the stranger sitting in front of me. It surrounds me like a shelter from the storm raging outside, pounding against the windows.

Suddenly, I realize I do not want to drive alone up the coast road. I want to stay here, with this man, in this place, where it’s cozy and peaceful.

“I believe I will,” I decide.

I’ll visit George a couple more times at the ship yard before the official launch of the boat. I’ll sit around the galley table with George and the crew, cherishing the laughter and banter as we eat and tell fishing stories. It will remind me of home, my summers fishing, and the fun of sitting around galley tables with the best kind of fishermen there are.

After a few past years of heartbreak, odd paths chosen, and questionable life decisions made, I am suddenly transformed. I am filled with joy and comfort, familiarity and laughter. Hope.

I barely know this person, but I know I am finally home. I also know I will never leave again.

* * *

Happy tenth wedding anniversary, G! The years have been long and the years have been short; they’ve been full of laughter and a few tears; they’ve included disappointments and excitement. They’ve involved fisheries, boats, dogs, illness, struggles, arguments, forgiveness, successes, children, houses, surprises, sweetness, memorable events, good decisions, bad decisions, and great friends. I couldn’t have chosen a better partner to go through life with, and I hope you still feel the same.

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September 28, 2002

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Ten Years Later.

I Won’t Live in My Car, and You Can’t Make Me.

Before I had children, I maintained that if you ever caught me in ugly sweats and driving a mini van, you could just shoot me.

I know, seriously. It’s extreme.

Now that I have three children, you may well catch me in sweats, but they’ll be cool sweats, if there is such a thing. But I did bypass the mini van for the Ford Flex, which has a ton of horsepower–the better to pass slow pokes on the freeway and be the first off the line when the light turns green.

One thing I won’t do is spend my life in my car.

I might wear sweats and drive a cross-over SUV, but I refuse to watch my life, and that of my children, sneak by from the view in my vehicle. I am firm in the belief that it does my children no good to spend all day in the car. Load up. Drop off. Pick up. Drive. Drop off. Kill an hour. Return. Pick up. Load up. Drive home. Repeat.

I just won’t do it.

This year, I tried organizing our schedule so that our drop-offs and pick-ups were around the same time and in the same part of town. Knowing baby Valerie would need her naps uninterrupted, and I couldn’t take another year of staggered schedules in different parts of town, I tried to coordinate accordingly.

So far, my plan has worked.

I got a taste of how well it is working just today. George is back to work on the boat, replacing the main engine with a new one (these engines take a ton of time, stress, and money, to the tune of about $70K). He goes to the boat each day and comes home in varying moods, depending on how the install has gone.

Replacing the main engine is a big deal and something George has decided must be done now, before the Dungeness crab gear work or season begins. For us at home, it means that he’s gone back to work two months earlier than he would have otherwise.

I’m just glad that I planned ahead so that the kids’ schedules would leave us all time and energy. We are only just beginning the school and fishing year, but so far, so good.

Fishermen Always Miss Out

Robin Blue, of the blog The Fishing Blues, has done an incredible job in her latest post capturing the schedule–or lack there of–of a commercial fisherman and a commercial fishing family. It’s an honest and beautifully written post, true to Robin’s form. What’s normal in a “regular” family is not the norm in a commercial fishing family, and her description of the missed birthdays, weddings, first days of school, anniversaries, Mother’s Days and close calls at Christmas is right on the money. Beautifully done, Robin!

Vincent’s Road to Recovery. Also, a Blog Book for the Family Archives!

I think that falling asleep holding hands with my little son, on the pullout couch in the family room, was the best way to spend a late Sunday afternoon.

How pleasant to drift off mid-day with my little one beside me, quiet and peaceful, as he caught up on sleep and continues to recover from surgery.

The “couch bed” has been set up for a week already and we’ve all taken turns resting, sleeping, reading, and watching shows with five-year-old Vincent.

Eva, six, has been so patient and respectful of Vincent’s adjustment and recovery process that I treated her to a mother–daughter pedicure over the weekend. And when she chose fluorescent yellow for her nail color and insisted I choose the same so we could be “twins,” there was no way I could refuse!

It’s been a slow, quiet, peaceful week at our house. It was hard for anyone to imagine we could keep things quiet around here for more than five minutes, but we did! I’m still processing events from the surgery and after and plan to write more about that part of it later. It has been so overwhelming to sort through and I’m trying to stay focused on continuing Vincent’s adjustment and road back to health.

In the midst of all this, I actually did something I’ve been wanting to do for years, which is finding a program that will convert this entire blog into a book. It’s not a book I will sell or make available (unless my parents want a copy, ha ha!) but I have always wanted all of my posts from the past five years bound into one volume to include in our family archives of photo albums, scrapbooks, and journals.

I looked around the Internet a couple years ago for a way to convert this blog into a book, but nothing worked. When I tried uploading blog posts, the formatting would be all over the place and so would the pictures. I stopped trying, figuring improvements would take place eventually, and I’d just wait until then.  I recently resumed my search and after sampling a few programs that still didn’t work, I found one that did! The program I chose was Blog2Print.

After uploading over 400 blog posts with pictures, the first version ended up as a 600-page volume; too big for them and for me. Instead of breaking it up into two books, I went to work cutting blog posts that didn’t need to be in the book and got the numbers down. They didn’t go down enough, though, so I cut and cut some more. I ended up creating a volume of blog posts in a hardback book of about 410 pages. I gave it the title “Highliners and Homecomings: The First Five Years.”

I can’t wait to see the book once it arrives and include it in our family history for the children!

Goodbye, Sweet Summer. You Were One Of The Best.

It pains me to no end, but I spent this weekend packing away our summer tank tops and shorts, replacing them in our dresser drawers with pants and long-sleeved shirts. What hurt the most, though, and I mean really hurt, was deflating all of our water wings, inflatable tubes, and baby floats we used at the pool the past four months and packing them into a box that I took downstairs to the garage.

20120916-145558.jpgSeriously. It was awful! We had the best summer ever together as an actual family. We couldn’t get to the pool soon enough most days, and it seemed once there that we could not stay long enough. Several guests spent time with us basking in the sun and water, too, which made it even better. My parents, sister, niece, a handful of friends and their children…we even rented out the place for Vincent’s fifth birthday party!

I wasn’t sure if we’d get to the pool again after we returned from Florida, but we did get in a couple more visits. This past Friday was our final afternoon; we even took the last hanging flower basket home with us that pool management was giving away. 

I can’t even talk about how the box that George shipped home from Florida with our beach towels and souvenirs inside arrived last week…when I opened it up, there was sand from the beach scattered within, and I inhaled the beautiful scent of beach, sand, and suntan lotion. The last scent of an incredible summer.

Of course, I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating. A little over–the–top. Dramatic. I am those things, honestly. But I am serious this time. George is not around very often due to his fishing schedule and the never–ending work of boats, engines, gear, permits, taxes, regulations, and planning. When G is home, he often is not actually “home.”

But—for the first time in about a decade, he was really “home” this summer. I treasured and savored each moment of the sunshine, George, the children, my parents, my friends, and all that was good. And there was lots of good. I got to watch G forge a relationship with his infant daughter, whose first five months of life he missed. I love watching the way Valerie smiles at George now when she sees him, rather than crying and looking frantically around for me.

No, we didn’t adopt two new puppies. We’re just holding them.

Today I am vacuuming the house, filling out PTA paperwork, and getting ready for Vincent’s surgery tomorrow. I’m doing what I always do when I have a “patient,” which is pull out what the kids call the “bed couch” (hideaway bed) and fixing it up with fresh sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, and lots of pillows.

Vincent goes in tomorrow to have some work done on the matter of his eustachian tube dysfunction, and he’ll have two weeks of recovery ahead. They have warned us repeatedly that the first week will be painful for his ears, nose, and throat. Lots of milkshakes, popsicles, smoothies, and jello to come for my sweet buddy! Movies and reading books, too.

We hope that this surgery goes far in fixing a lot of damage that has accumulated over the past five years. We set all of this up earlier in the summer and then set it aside until fall, choosing to focus on enjoying the blessings of sunshine and family that were at hand.

Now, even though I’m dragging my heels in saying goodbye to sunshine and the luxury and rarity of having G and his attention around, I know that now is Vincent’s time. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.

Wish us luck tomorrow and please keep Vincent in your thoughts and prayers!

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What does this picture have to do with this particular post? Nothing. But it gave me a smile, and I thought it might give you one, too.

The First Week of School

I was not looking forward to the start of school for a variety of reasons.

For starters, I like creating my own schedule. I don’t like someone “else” determining what I do with my own children and at what time. I don’t care for inflexible rules. I love summer, sunshine, freedom, and easy days and nights. I don’t respond well to other adults telling me much, least of all, what to do, and when to do it, especially with my own children.

Hey, I’m the descendant of commercial fishing captains. We do our own thing.

However, I also live in the real world. I’m familiar with reality. Realizing that reality, and taking into account each of my children, I made the best decisions I could going into this next school year. So far, everything has worked out well, and that has made the start of school so much more pleasant!

Eva entered first grade, and we made the decision to enter our Vincent into (private) kindergarten—in spite of his summer birthday—because we felt he was ready to progress to the next level. It was a hard decision; I didn’t think Vincent was ready for public kindergarten, but I did not want to see him in preschool for another year. I did not want him with 3-and-4-year olds; I really wanted him learning alongside children his own age.

Vincent has been at a disadvantage due to his late summer birthday and because of his hearing and speech challenges which were recently, and finally, diagnosed after five years.

However, just because Vincent does not hear perfectly well, or does not speak perfectly well, does not mean he does not know his colors, and letters, and numbers. He does know how to follow directions, even if he doesn’t always hear the directions. We felt that just because he has specific challenges, it didn’t mean Vincent needed to be held back from progressing in his learning and socializing with children his age.

Therefore, we made the choice to enter Vincent into a small, private kindergarten. I brought Vincent to kindergarten each day this week and stayed for a while each morning to observe his manner, his interaction with others, and the interactions of others with him.

Nobody is more vigilant, sensitive, or alert to the needs or challenges of my Vincent than me, and I wanted to be sure we’d made the right decision and that Vincent was in the right place.

Each morning, I watched Vincent’s teacher interact with my sweet boy. I observed the way he would gently rest his hand on Vincent’s shoulder and make sure Vincent was looking right at him before he began speaking. He made sure Vincent could see his mouth as he spoke, and he spoke in the direction of Vincent’s left ear, which is the better of Vincent’s two ears, before he continued.

I watched Vincent smile, nod, and respond to his teacher.

When I felt comfortable to go, I gave my sweet boy a big hug.

“Have the best day ever,” I said each day. “I love you so much.”

Then I’d go home and figure out what to do next. (Fortunately, baby Valerie helps dictate that plan of action.) I returned every afternoon to pick Vincent up and was so pleased to see him playing in the big field underneath a blue sky and making friends. I received a note from his teacher telling me how much Vincent enjoys the Listening Center and that his favorite part of the day is reading books.

I also walked the baby up to Eva’s school this week in the nice weather to see if I could catch her at recess and give her a hug. Eva wasn’t at recess, but she just happened to be outside working on an art project, and it was so much fun seeing her with hands covered in red paint.

I’m so proud of my two big kids. They melt my heart with their backpacks and their joy. They are each in the place that is perfect for them, and that has made all the difference.

All Good Things Must End

I can’t believe it; it’s our last night on vacation on the entire opposite end of the country!

I just swam in the pool with Eva one last time, wrapped up in a towel, hauled out the suitcases and began packing.

No! I don’t want to leave!

No matter how much time you spend, it’s never enough.

We did so much and so little on this trip. It was the perfect blend of family, friends, sunshine, and storm.

What did we do? Or rather, what did we not do? We swam in the pool. Waited for Hurricane Isaac. Read books. Floated in the Gulf of Mexico.

We traveled to Lakeland to visit family, and out past Sarasota to visit family. We lived in a two-bedroom condo with three children (including a 7-month old infant who decided now was the perfect time to cut her first two teeth).

I don’t want to go back home and deal with its obligations and commitments and expectations.

Eva is starting first grade. Vincent is starting kindergarten. Mommy is teaching Jazzercise and Vincent has a surgery. Daddy is getting the boat ready for the next crab season.

Do we really have to go back home and get all of this started?

Yes—we do.

It is not what we want to do, but it is what we do.

And so we do.

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A Commercial Fishing Wife Meets a Military Wife on Anna Maria Island

When you are from the Pacific Northwest and travel to Hawaii, chances are very good that you are going to run into someone that you know while you’re there. Or run into someone that knows somebody that you know. Or at the very least, run into any random somebody from the Pacific Northwest. Hawaii is a popular vacation destination for us in that corner of the world.

I feel a little more distant and anonymous when I travel to Florida, like where we are now.

Yesterday on the beach of Anna Maria Island, I observed a young family. There was a mother in an adorable red and white polka dotted bikini, a daughter of about four, and a father. The father had what seemed to be a shaved head, and he sported tattoos all around his arms and torso.

I observed the couple for some time, imagining their story and their circumstances, before it occurred to me that they might very well be a military family.

I watched the dad dote upon his little girl; he appeared more enthusiastic about the sand castles they were building than even she, race as he did from the Gulf to the beach time and again, adding flourishes to their beach art.

The young mother smiled and took pictures. When the father wasn’t doting upon his daughter, he was holding his wife in his arms. As the family packed up to leave at the end of the day, I decided I just had to know their story. So, I approached the mother under the guise of “where are you staying on the Island?” and “for how long?”

When she replied that they were a military family on leave, taking a vacation before her husband deployed to Afghanistan for the next nine months, I could not believe that I had been correct in my assumption.

When this sweet young mother, Amanda, next told me that they were based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, I couldn’t believe it! Here I was on the opposite side of the country, frolicking with my family on the beach, and right next to me all day long was another family from Washington State, also frolicking on the beach.

We spoke for a while about the similarities between commercial fishing and military families. We spoke at length about the importance of being around family while our spouses are gone, and she told me of her plan to move back to her home state to be with her family while her husband is in Afghanistan.

We talked about how there’s just “nothing you can do” about the amount of time fishing and military families are separated, and we even laughed about how Skype was just “too confusing” for either one of us to figure out how to use. We also touched on how hard it is to live in the Pacific Northwest with its dreary weather if you are prone to any sort of depression or anxiety.

At the end of our conversation, I told her I thought they were an adorable family, and that her bikini was cute as well.

“Oh, do you think so?” She asked. “I thought it might be too skimpy, but I’ve been trying to get a tan.”

I assured her that both her swimsuit and her family were as sweet as could be, and then we said goodbye and I watched them walk up the beach back to their car.

In addition to this lovely family, we have run into several other interesting people on our trip. I spent an afternoon with a kind and dynamic homeschooling mother of four at our hotel pool. We swam in the Gulf with some of my “fellow” Croatian countrymen, gave directions to a nice German couple, and sat at the beach bar next to a family from London (including their son, who’d been a professional English soccer player!)

I had no idea that this part of Florida was such a popular destination for Europeans! I love talking to people and meeting people and hearing their stories, so this has been an added bonus to our vacation.

Here are a few new pictures. Let’s hope we do not get evacuated when Hurricane Isaac hits on Monday and Tuesday!

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