A picture is worth a thousand words…

I’ve been remiss in my blogging, once again. Here’s all the stuff I wasn’t blogging about…

Before Paige’s college suspended all greek life, her sorority held their philanthropy event- a Red Dress Gala for women’s heart health, and had a couple of social events.

She also spent a lot of time studying…

We loved having the whole family together for Thanksgiving….

Tim and I decided to be tourists one day, and took a trolley tour in St. Augustine (We’ve never done that before! 😳😂) We walked all along St. George Street And did some Christmas shopping, had lunch, and had a fabulous day.

The family went for a nice hike in Guana over Thanksgiving weekend before the kids had to get back to classes. It was a great way to end the weekend (after eating all that turkey 🦃)!

Clay got to spend a day out on the water doing some research before exams, which he appreciated!

I spent a weekend tackling a couple of projects- repainting our patio set, and chalk painting this table. I love how it turned out!


Level Dance Company performed in the homecoming parade, and Paige had a reunion with her Paris friends (from study abroad.)

Hurricane Matthew

This time last week we were keeping an eye on the weather and watching all the forecast tracks and “cone of concern” for Hurricane Matthew. At first, it didn’t look too bad….and then some of the models, particularly the more reliable European model, had the storm coming right up the coast of Florida- and right over St. Augustine. 

By Wednesday evening we knew we were under a mandatory evacuation order. We left our home Thursday around noon. At that time, we were expecting a Catagory 4 storm, with wind gusts over 100 mph, and a catastrophic storm surge. 

We left our house not knowing if our home would be flooded, but from the forecasts at the time we expected it. I managed to pack a few, very few, memories in plastic bins to bring with us – stuff the kids had made when they were younger (a ceramic armadillo, impressions of the kid’s baby hands, a cross) my grandmother’s pie plates, my great-grandmother’s China, some pictures. Not enough…but a few things. I walked out of our home not knowing if anything would be left when we returned. That’s a weird feeling- walking away from everything you own and wondering if you’ll ever see it again. 

We stopped by the beach on our way out and watched the waves pounding the shore, the wind whipping salt and sand everywhere, and the dunes – hours before Matthew hit – already being eaten away by the surf.

We spent the next few days ensconced in a hotel on the west side of Jacksonville- about 45 miles away. We were safe, and comfortable- we only lost power in the hotel for about an hour Friday evening. We watched news updates on the storm. We saw the pictures of the storm surge flooding the streets of Jacksonville Beach and beautiful, historic Saint Augustine. What we didn’t see, and what made me increasingly nervous, was anything about Vilano Beach. 

And then, finally, reports and images began to come in from Vilano Beach. 

Debris along A1A and the parking lot of a favorite restaurant a couple of miles from our house. 

Vilano Beach, the reporters stated, was one of the hardest hit areas. There were very few photos coming in as no one was allowed back on the island until the bridges were inspected, and then the National Guard had to clear debris,and then buildings needed to be inspected for anyone needing assistance…and for safety. 

Meanwhile, we worried. 

Finally, the bridges were opened. We headed home. 

As we got closer to our neighborhood, we began seeing the marks on the houses. 

And then we got home. There was debris in the streets of our neighborhood and in the yards. But…the houses appeared undamaged for the most part. A few shingles loose here and there, some broken screens, a few trees down. Our house was fine! Absolutely fine! It looked exactly the way we left it. Miraculously, we only lost power in the neighborhood for about 20 minutes, so we didn’t even have to clean our refrigerator and freezer of rotten food! The neighborhood’s beach access and pavilion were destroyed, however, and some of the marshfront houses did have some flooding from the surge. 

Our electricity is on. We have running water. Our biggest problem is no cable or internet- and, really, that’s such a first world problem. We are certainly not complaining, especially considering what others are having to deal with…

Before/after of condemned houses on Vilano Beach 

The moat at Castillo de San Marcos (the fort) is filled again. 

Thank God the storm weakened a bit before it got here and it took a last minute wobble to the east. Matthew came to our little barrier island as a Category 3, not a 4. We had a 5-6 foot storm surge, not 9-12 feet. As bad as things were and still are for so many…it could have been so much worse. 

Thanks to everyone who thought about us, prayed for us, and checked in on us. We are still in shock that our home and all our belongings are okay. We’re incredibly grateful. And we’re incredibly humbled by the power of Mother Nature. 

Qué Pasa?

While I miss the kids – a lot, I must confess that this empty nest thing is really not so awful. It’s quiet. And the house stays clean. And there’s barely any laundry. I haven’t been cooking…there’s just Tim and I. It hardly seems worth the effort. We’ve been eating out, or grilling something, or having salads, or just “foraging.” 

We read a lot…

And take walks on the beach…

We’ve acted like tourists and walked around St. Augustine…

And we’ve been planning our first “empty nester adventure” in a couple of weeks, which I won’t say more about because we fly space available and I don’t want to jinx anything. (#nonrevsuperstitions!) but I will say that I’m excited!! 😊

Clay has started his classes and has been working quite a bit. He has met with his professors about his research project and is planning a night sampling soon (to see if Erika’s higher tides brought in any unusual creatures.) He also went out the other evening and caught and tagged sharks (for NOAA.)

(I agree – he looks demonic in this photo. )
Paige has mastered Uber and has gone grocery shopping with a friend…

She seems to be eating healthy…

Although she is not a fan of the heat and humidity in Tallahassee!

And she ran into (literally!) an old friend the other day, whom she’s known since 2nd grade. Their lives have taken such parallel tracks, it’s funny. They first met through rhythmic gymnastics, then again at The Florida Ballet, then again at the performing arts high school, and now at college…and they have the same major and are in the same computer class!

And finally, Jack. Jack has been…well, exactly the same. 

Some things never change…