Monday, December 31, 2007

Surfer Dudes

We're waking up to the last day of 2007 and breakfast in the backyard. Hunter doesn't stand on ceremony when he sets the table. He just brings out the necessary elements--a bottle of milk, whatever cereal boxes are available, and eating utensils. Grandpa Al accidentally ripped the bottom out of the cereal box this morning so they repaired the box with masking tape.

If we get a decent breakfast, we can spend hours surfing waves at the beach, building castles in the sand, and watching boats whiz by on the intracoastal highway along the jetty.

Check out these glimpses of body boarding and fighting the waves that keep washing back the sandcastles.

Dave helps Blake and Hunter get up on their boards. When "the big one" comes in, Dave gives them a lift and they ride all the way to the shore.
Then they come back for more. Good thing Dave does weight lifting every day as part of his morning regimen.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cool Christmas Gift

Everyone was very generous and thoughtful for Christmas this year and it might be rude to single out one Christmas gift out over others for being unique, but this one was pretty interesting. A friend of ours, Maria Bruhns, lives and works at a winery in Gilroy California, Kirigin Cellars. If anyone ever has a chance to stop by and say hi, please do so. The wineries in the Santa Clara Valley are excellent and very personable. Apparently she visited the blog and found a picture (ISU squeaks past Colorado, and we were there!) to use to make a custom wine label for a perfect Christmas gift, very cool, thanks Maria! I think it will make a perfect celebration wine for a tailgate at the University of Iowa game or for the next year ISU makes it to a bowl game, which could be quite a while. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas Baby!

We are proud to announce the birth of Carson William Hayes on December 24, 2007 at 7 pm (yes, Christmas Eve) to Mandy and Kerry Hayes (Kerry is Kimberly's brother). Carson was 6 lbs, 9 oz and 19" tall. Unfortunately uncle Adam was caught off guard and forgot his camera so there are no pictures yet.

Congrats Mandy and Kerry!

Finally some pictures.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Becky and Al here, on Christmas Eve in Venice, Florida. Hope you're all with people you love and enjoying your hours together. We are. Dave and Amy flew in from Iowa with their boys, Hunter and Blake. This is Hunter stringing kumquats on a garland to help me finish decorating the Christmas tree at the Shamrock House. Check out the finished tree, below.

This is the Shade House, our home at the beach. We spend most of our time playing football, surfing on body boards, making wind chimes from shells combed up from the sand and digging for shark's teeth. The cabana hides us away from the birds who fly by when they see food in little hands.

For Christmas Eve, we donned our Christmas socks after we returned from the candlelight Christmas service at church. Grandpa Al made up a Christmas game that mimicked Uncle Stan's trading game...the purse game with a $20 bill. Blake bid on the purse right away, recognizing it as a symbol for $$$$. Fortunately, Grandpa Al was wise enough to balance the game with $$$$ in all of the gifts. The guy with the socks in the lower right is the big winner....Blake played jokester all night with his new pink purse full of money.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Underwood Early Christmas in Iowa

Hunter and Blake had a great early Christmas in Iowa. After they spent a few nights sorting and inserting their new baseball cards from Adam and Kim, they got to open their gifts from mom and dad. They are keeping themselves busy with their new stuff while they wait anxiously to leave for Florida.

Dad had a good time too!

Blake and Hunter test for their Yellow and Purple White belts

Tonight Blake and Hunter will both test for their next belts. Hunter is 5 belts from his black belt and Blake is taking his first test tonight. Dave is coaching as he is an adult with a higher belt. We wish them a lot of luck. They will not know if they passed until they get home from their trip to Florida.

Friday, December 14, 2007

O, Christmas Tree

Becky and Al here, from Venice, Florida, writing by the glow of Christmas lights set on our window ledge. The five candle set-up is plastic, one of those cheap $8 electric candelabra from the seasonal aisle of Walgreen's. Inside the house, the candles are safe, clean burning, and disguised by the sheer curtains in front of them. Outside (we imagine), the band of lights are a traditional comfort for travelers look for a room at the inn.

Our first Florida Christmas tree was a cardboard and tissue paper palm purchased at a party store. It hung from the ceiling by a cup hook, gaily spinning in the breeze unless anchored by gift boxes. It was perfect with the beach chairs we'd assembled for living room seating--we were tourists in a weird and wacky world and hadn't quite found our sea legs. It was marvelously novel.

We're still tourists, in spite of the fact that we're Florida residents holding Florida driver's licenses. However, we're back to decorating the old-fashioned kind of Christmas tree for relatives who come south for the holidays. Here, trees are sold from bright striped tents that suddenly spring up after Thanksgiving.

This year, we're creating a hybrid Christmas tree--crossing an evergreen with an orange tree. At the moment, citrus trees are heavy with ripening orbs that resemble round ornaments dangling from the ends of Christmas tree branches. This year, we'll dangle ornaments as if they were oranges and set a few on the floor as if they'd dropped from the tree. A beach towel for a tree skirt, perhaps. The mind hums with decorating possibilities.

Hunter is coming to decorate the tree. Nana started at the top but promises to hold off on the bottom two-thirds until he gets here. He'll be hanging emptied single-service Tropicana cartons by red ribbons, tying up key limes, clementines, and tangerines in squares of netting recouped from the produce bags they came in, and fastening peppermint canes on boughs with KMart bows. If that isn't enough, he'll layer the evergreen branches with lemon leaf stems.

Hurry, Hunter...empty branches are waiting. And, hurry, Blake...Grandpa Al is getting out the Christmas games.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Spotting Santa

While Norma's weathering the ice storm in the North, Santa's sunning himself in the South. For those of you who don't know Norma (see previous post), she's the tree that Amy planted in memory of her grandmother, Norma Jerdee. Norma, the tree, has suffered through several brutal storms, including a severe topping off last year. She remains a beautiful thing, in spite of her crew cut.

We don't know much about this Santa. He's just a funky drive-by shooting on a snowless Glen Oak Road in Venice, Florida. Christmas in Florida looks strange to those of us who associate it with snow. The only time it looks right is when we view the live Nativity under the palm trees on Tamiami Trail.

The red palm tree is a perennial favorite at Sharky's on the Beach.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Norma battles another ice storm

We are watching as Norma is battling yet another ice storm. She is tough so we are hopeful she will pull through again.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Every year we run into Santa at the most unexpected places. This year it was at the Nutcracker Ballet. It was a highlight for Hunter and Blake. They no longer ask why Santa is so skinny or how can he be in so many places. I think they figure they had better just play along or they could risk losing the good stuff on Christmas. They saw Santa and excitedly ran up for a photo op and a candy cane. No need to tell him what they want, because they know he already got their letters.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tis the Season...

Becky and Al here, checking in from Mt. Vernon Drive and beautiful gulfside Venice, Florida. The neighbors are at it again--Kitching It Up for Christmas (we never know what quirky sight will pop up in this town that's touted by magazines as One of the 10 Best Places to Retire in America).

At 203 Shamrock Boulevard, homeowners are mad for penguins. They probably own every penguin-themed Christmas yard ornament ever made, adding another to the collection whenever a new one turns up. They showcase their penguins by type. There's the blow-up section which takes up most of the yard. On the other side of the driveway, you can view the wire-sculpture section (didn't get a shot of them).

Sharky's at the beach decorates the palm trees and lines up their Santa collection on top of the fish aquarium.

It's That Kind of Day

The Adam Jerdees are having a slow stroll through the inside of the Minnesota Zoo today. Staying warm, taking it easy... Like this g...